Five-Hundred Life-Saving Interventions and Their Cost-Effectiveness

Authors

  • Tammy O. Tengs,

    1. Center for Health Policy Research and Education, Duke University, 125 Old Chemistry Building, Box 90253, Durham, North Carolina 27708.
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  • Miriam E. Adams,

    1. Simmons College, School of Social Work, Boston, Massachusetts.
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  • Joseph S. Pliskin,

    1. Industrial Engineering and Management, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.
    2. Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
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  • Dana Gelb Safran,

    1. The Health Institute, New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.
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  • Joanna E. Siegel,

    1. Maternal and Child Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
    2. Center for Risk Analysis, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
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  • Milton C. Weinstein,

    1. Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
    2. Center for Risk Analysis, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
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  • John D. Graham

    1. Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
    2. Center for Risk Analysis, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
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Abstract

We gathered information on the cost-effectiveness of life-saving interventions in the United States from publicly available economic analyses. “Life-saving interventions” were defined as any behavioral and/or technological strategy that reduces the probability of premature death among a specified target population. We defined cost-effectiveness as the net resource costs of an intervention per year of life saved. To improve the comparability of cost-effectiveness ratios arrived at with diverse methods, we established fixed definitional goals and revised published estimates, when necessary and feasible, to meet these goals. The 587 interventions identified ranged from those that save more resources than they cost, to those costing more than 10 billion dollars per year of life saved. Overall, the median intervention costs $42,000 per life-year saved. The median medical intervention costs $19,000/life-year; injury reduction $48,000/life-year; and toxin control $2,800,000/life-year. Cost/life-year ratios and bibliographic references for more than 500 life-saving interventions are provided.

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