Unhealthy lifestyle practices and medical-care costs in the military
Weber, Timothy H.
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The majority of all medical illnesses, and associated costs. can be prevented through personal decisions not to use unhealthy lifest)·Je practices (e.g., smoking. not exercising). A statistical analysis was conducted to examine whether there was a cost impact on medical care as a result of military· personnel engaging in unhealthy lifestyle practices. The approach taken for this analysis used the 1992 Worldwide Survey of Substance Abuse and Health Behaviors ofMi/iUII)' Personnel data base, and the Department of Defense (DoD) contractor's statistical methodology and software tools. Results concluded that specific unhealthy lifestyle practices. used by fit-for-duty military personnel. do impose a modest incremental cost for several site-specific medical services. These findings established the fust reference points for DoD to use in monitoring fluctuations in site-specific medical sen·ices associated with unhealthy lifestyle practices among the active-duty force. Further research is recommended to study the effects of unhealthy lifesl)·Je practices on medical-care costs in an active duty military cohon, a retired military population under 6.5. and a retired military population over 6.5. The results from these studies will allow an examination of the long-term health, utilization, and cost effects of using an unhealthy lifestyJe practice.
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