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County Health Departments Get Big Return on Investment, Study Says

meddygarnet / Flickr
 

meddygarnet / Flickr

A new study shows California county health departments experience a higher return on investment compared to other areas of medical care.

County health departments saw a return on investment of $67.07 to $88.21 for every dollar spent on improving health outcomes between 2001 and 2009, according to the report from UC Berkely's School of Public Health. 

Timothy Brown, author of the study and health economist at UC Berkely, says prevention of health problems has a higher return on investments.

"It's higher than the returns for medical care. Medical care is important and we still need to continue to fund that, but public health will actually give you a larger bang for your buck," Brown says.

Dr. Olivia Kasirye, public health officer for Sacramento County Health Department, says the agency measures incremental improvements in health.

"It takes a while to change behavior especially for an entire community and it takes a while to change an environment as well,"she says.

Returns on Medicare expenses ranged from $1 to $5 per dollar spent for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and breast cancer, according to Brown's research.