The Opportunity Cost of Healthy Behavior

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On Health Economics


By Mark MD MPH

Living a “healthy” lifestyle – however defined – takes work and energy. It means extra time to make it to the grocery store (instead of ordering in), saying no to that extra drink, and being conscientious when eating out. It can have the added social side effect of making you seem uptight, judgmental, or boring.

So, what exactly is the Opportunity Cost of Healthy Behavior?




The Opportunity Cost of Healthy Behavior


Mark J. Harris received his MD/MPH from Columbia University in May 2015. He will be starting Anesthesiology residency in June at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. Mark is interested in the intersection between medicine and public policy, especially as it relates to chronic disease prevention (such as for diabetes, heart disease, and obesity), and he wishes to merge medicine, outcomes research, and public policy to address issues of perioperative risk factors, pain management, and end-of-life care.


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One Response

  1. Making an earlier impact on health and outcomes — Why Wait?

    When new members are enrolled in health plans, it would be irrational to assume they are all in perfect health and haven’t been under the care of one or many physicians.

    Yet, too often health plans feel their only avenue to making substantive impact on health and outcomes can only start once they begin to pay claims and build a medical/clinical history. This wait and see approach can result in higher costs over time, increased care complications, and poorer member quality of life.

    Even without physically examining a patient or having access to any previous diagnostic testing results, there is a treasure-trove of external data points that, when merged with analytics, can pinpoint those members that need contact rather than waiting. Health plans must embrace these data points to impact member health at the point of enrollment and even continuing throughout the life of coverage.



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