photo of a selection of vitamin supplements
Supplementing with essential fatty acids and B vitamins can improve health and help keep healthcare costs down.

Targeted use of supplements can lower healthcare costs

8 December, 2014

Natural Health News — Use of specific dietary supplements can have a positive effect on health care costs through avoided hospitalisations related to Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), according to a new analysis.

The article published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements looks at the cost versus benefit, when applied to a high-risk population (US adults over 55 with CHD) who take dietary supplements – specifically omega-3 fatty acid or B vitamin dietary supplements – and finds that supplementation can result in the reduction of the individuals’ risk of experiencing a costly medical event.

Hospitalisations for all US adults over the age of 55 with CHD cost the United States over $64 billion in 2012, and the amount spent on the treatment of CHD, rather than the prevention, is burdensome on both the societal and individual levels—and only expected to increase, according to the article.

“One way to control the burden of CHD costs is to minimise the number of costly inpatient procedures,” the authors said.

“Many dietary supplement products are available in the market today that have been shown to have positive effects on heart health through associated clinical studies…Thus, the potential decrease of total health care expenditures in the United States is a strong argument for the daily use of dietary supplements.”

$12 billion saved

According to the authors’ analysis:

  • If every high-risk person in the target population were to take B vitamins at preventive intake levels daily, there would be an average of $1.5 billion in avoided expenditures per year and a cumulative of $12.1 billion in avoided expenditures between 2013-20.
  • “This is a relatively low-technology, yet smart, approach that can be used by consumers, physicians, employers, and policymakers as a means to reduce personal and societal health care costs,” the authors concluded.

The cost-savings model used in this article was first presented in a report, funded by the Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation in which the authors conducted a systematic review of scientific research in peer-reviewed, published studies that looked separately at relationships between omega-3 supplement intake and the risk of a CHD-attributed event, and B vitamins intake and the risk of a CHD-attributed event.

This analysis demonstrated that the use of specific dietary supplements among those at a high risk of experiencing a costly disease-related event can lead to a positive health care cost savings.

For the current study the authors likewise conclude that “targeted dietary supplement regimens are recommended as a means to help control rising societal health care costs, and as a means for high-risk individuals to minimize the chance of having to deal with potentially costly events and to invest in increased quality of life.