NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Disease Management Programs Don't Work

January 15, 2013

A major aim of health reform across several states has been to focus on the prevention and management of chronic diseases. In theory, this would lower overall health spending if fewer people developed chronic conditions that force them to take costly medication or undergo costly procedures, says Jason Shafrin, a Ph.D. economist and research associate at Acumen, LLC.

  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus package included $2.2 billion for health care cost-effectiveness research that focused on chronic disease prevention and disease management.
  • The hope was to address the costs of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and smoking-related illnesses.

However, a new study sheds light on these diseases management programs and finds that they don't work.

  • The study looks at diabetic disease management programs implemented in Washington, Texas and Georgia.
  • The study controlled for state and year effects, as well as median state income, obesity rate and state Medicaid enrollment to isolate the effect of these disease management programs.
  • According to the data, there were no decreases in emergency admissions or inpatient charges.
  • As a result, the authors conclude that disease management programs were not effective.

Source: Jason Shafrin, "Disease Management Programs Don't Work," Healthcare Economist, January 2, 2013. Matthew S. Conti, "Effect of Medicaid Disease Management Programs on Emergency Admissions and Inpatient Costs," Health Services Research, December 26, 2012.


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