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Large decrease in physician fees seen in 'high cost' people practicing Transcendental Meditation
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17 June 2012
Dr. Robert Herron concludes his analysis of how great reductions in health care expenditures can be achieved—which in the US means helping save Medicare and Medicaid [government-funded health care for the elderly] without cutting benefits or raising taxes: ''Just add a TM benefit'' to those programs, he says—offering the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique especially to people who consistently incur high medical costs. He backs up this statement with his most recent research, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
See also Part I of this series: 'The Transcendental Meditation program: The best way to cut Medicare and Medicaid costs?'
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This chart shows a 28% reduction in doctors' bills over five years from baseline for consistent high-cost people who practiced the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique.
Consistent High-Cost People
A small fraction of people incur the majority of health care costs. The highest spending 10% in the general population incurred 60% to 70% of total medical expenditures annually. In the Medicare population, the highest spending 5% incurred 43% of total Medicare costs, and the highest spending 25% of seniors accounted for 85% of total expenses. Many of these highest-spending people have elevated medical bills over many years.
Consistent high-cost people typically have poor health with five or more chronic conditions, which are affected by excessive stress. Chronic stress weakens the immune system, which increases vulnerability to most diseases. Stress also degrades other physiological systems. This on-going damage causes, aggravates, or contributes to a wide range of physical and mental disorders. Prolonged stress also contributes to the unhealthy lifestyles that cause most chronic conditions, which account for approximately 80% of national medical expenditures. Obviously, stress reduction could help reduce high medical costs.
I conducted the study that was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion (2011; 26(1): 56-60). The results indicated that people with consistently high doctors' bills experienced a 28% cumulative decrease in physician fees after an average of five years of TM practice. After the first year of meditation, the TM group's physicians' bills declined 11%.
In 2009, the highest-spending 5% of the population averaged $16,336 or more per person in medical expenses annually. The tuition for starting the life-long TM program is $1,500. If the TM technique were taught to these people and their health care expenses decreased by 11% in the first year, then the payback period for the TM program would be less than one year. Since numerous studies show that the medical expenses of almost all TM practitioners continue to decline for over five years, the savings to Medicare and Medicaid would persist for many years and generate a substantial return on investment.
The distinctive stress-reducing and health-enhancing properties of TM practice have major policy implications. I conclude: ''When considering the above study in the context of all the published research on the benefits of TM practice for mental and physical health, it is clear that if the TM program were provided to consistent high-cost people, then it would be possible to leverage great reductions in health care expenditures and thus help save Medicare and Medicaid without cutting benefits or raising taxes. Just add a TM benefit.''
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Robert E. Herron, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Health Systems Analysis, is an independent researcher, writer, and consultant on how to reduce rising health care costs. He earned an MBA in 1985 and a Ph.D. in Management in 1993 at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa. Dr. Herron has conducted research to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of various methods of disease prevention and alternative medicine. He has also conducted research that led to the development of new methods of analyzing rising health care costs and innovative means for decreasing those expenses. He has written a book on how to decrease medical costs, New Knowledge for New Results.
Dr. Herron can be contacted at email@example.com.
His web site is www.reducemedicalcosts.com.
Source: TM News
© Copyright 2012 Center for Health Systems Analysis
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