Health Care Cost Reduction – Study Methodology

This study was conducted for the purpose of updating previous estimates developed by the author of the potential savings that could be achieved if people with Medicare and women of childbearing age used specified dietary supplements. We used a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scoring-like methodology for the studies. The CBO annual projections of federal budget revenues and spending which remain constant during the study period serve as a baseline.

We employed methodology that is consistent with that used in earlier studies to obtain the net costs.11 The estimates that were developed for calcium and omega-3 represent the likely impact on the federal budget (Medicare program) from some proportion of seniors taking the supplements at the recommended dosage on a daily basis.12 The estimates for folic acid and lutein represent the likely impact to the U.S. economy more broadly, as they include not only health care but other societal costs, such as the costs of social support services.

In the case of folic acid, the estimate is based upon 11.3 million women taking 400 mcg. on a daily basis. Approximately 44 million women in the U.S. are currently of childbearing age, and although folic acid supplements have been proven to be the “best and most reliable method” of reducing the probability of NTDs, two thirds of women of childbearing age fail to do this. Thus one of every thousand babies is born in the U.S. with NTD.13

The estimates are conservative, as they only take into account the behavior of a small proportion of the at-risk individuals. In the case of lutein with zeaxanthin, the estimates presented this study are based on the behavior of only 191,000 seniors, out of nearly 20 million who report having symptoms of AMD.


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11 Dr. DaVanzo was the lead author of these reports while at The Lewin Group.
12 The recommended dose of calcium with Vitamin D is 1200 mg. per day, omega-3 is 1800 mg. per day, lutein with zeaxanthin is 6-10 mcg. per day, and folic acid is 400 mcg. per day.
13 Testimony of Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg before the Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness Committee on Government Reform for the U.S. House of Representatives. September 22, 2004.


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