Calculating the Value of Health
From drinking water access and childhood lead exposure risks to obesity prevention and the opioid epidemic, Altarum’s Value of Health tool quantifies the societal impact of public health issues, giving communities the insight and data needed to respond with precision.
Developed with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Value of Health tool measures the long-term impacts of investments in the social determinants of health and the consequences of public health on earnings, health, incarceration, education, and life expectancy. The tool enables policy assessments and cost-benefit analyses to assess the impacts of health investments and population health changes, while revealing the portion of impacts that accrue from health care spending and changes in future earnings, for a defined community or population. Results also show how the societal benefits accrue to people and organizations that can influence the investment, such as the private sector and governments.
Through the Value of Health tool, Altarum recently quantified that lack of basic water and sanitation services is costing the U.S. economy over $8.5 billion per year in a report issued with human rights nonprofit DigDeep. We estimated that the negative lifetime economic impacts of childhood lead exposure will exceed $84 billion dollars annually and developed an interactive online tool that provides comprehensive state-level data on the cost of exposure and the economic benefits of intervention. An application of the tool in Michigan found that proactive policies to replace the state’s lead service lines by 2041 would return $2.44 dollars per dollar invested. Other states and communities have applied Value of Health data to raise awareness of health challenges, generate support to fund investments in public health, and determine the net economic benefits of current policies with direct impact on health equity.