Congressional Budget Office analysts have overlooked the value of modern, well-targeted wellness and condition management programs, a prevention firm argues.

The CBO last week published a letter suggesting only about 20% of wellness and condition management programs produce clear health cost savings.

U.S. Preventive Medicine Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., has fired back with a rebuttal contending that the CBO analysts gave Congress an incomplete analysis of the costs and benefits of preventive care programs.

One type of prevention program involves use of diagnostic tests to find people with conditions that are at the earliest, most treatable stages, U.S. Preventive Medicine notes.

But prevention programs also can include identifying risks and recommending behavior changes, such as healthy eating, exercise and immunizations, the firm says.

Prevention programs also can focus on slowing or reversing the progression of diseases that have been identified, the firm says.

The CBO analysis dealt only diagnostic tests and related intervention, not with health advice or efforts to manage existing conditions, U.S. Preventive Medicine says.

The main challenge to making testing programs pay for themselves is focusing the testing resources most likely to be suffering from early stages of treatable conditions, the firm says.

“Some early prevention efforts, while effective at improving outcomes, were cost prohibitive because they produced widespread screening for multiple diseases,” the firm says. “However, the discipline of preventive health care has progressed beyond its early stages to incorporate risk-based targeting and clinical recommendations.”

Firms such as U.S. Preventive Medicine use health histories, lifestyle questionnaires and simple blood tests to identify the people most in need of advice, or testing for specific medical problems, the firm says.

“These capabilities are available in the marketplace today, but not included in the [CBO] analysis,” the firm says.