Evidence-based estimation of health care cost savings from the use of omega-3 supplementation among the elderly in Korea

  • Hwang, Ji-Yun (Nutrition Education Major, Graduate School of Education, Sangmyung University) ;
  • Kim, Wu Seon (Department of Senior-Friendly Industry, Korea Health Industry Development Institute) ;
  • Jeong, Sewon (BiofoodCRO Co., Ltd.) ;
  • Kwon, Oran (Department of Nutritional Science and Food Management, Ewha Womans University)
  • Received : 2014.11.14
  • Accepted : 2015.05.22
  • Published : 2015.08.01


BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: By the year 2050, thirty-eight percent of the Korean population will be over the age of 65. Health care costs for Koreans over age 65 reached 15.4 trillion Korean won in 2011, accounting for a third of the total health care costs for the population. Chronic degenerative diseases, including coronary heart disease (CHD), drive long-term health care costs at an alarming annual rate. In the elderly population, loss of independence is one of the main reasons for this increase in health care costs. Korean heath policies place a high priority on the prevention of CHD because it is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. SUBJECTS/METHODS: This evidence-based study aims to the estimate potential health care cost savings resulting from the daily intake of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Potential cost savings associated with a reduced risk of CHD and the medical costs potentially avoided through risk reduction, including hospitalizations and physician services, were estimated using a Congressional Budget Office cost accounting methodology. RESULTS: The estimate of the seven-year (2005-2011) net savings in medical costs resulting from a reduction in the incidence of CHD among the elderly population through the daily use of omega-3 fatty acids was approximately 210 billion Korean won. Approximately 92,997 hospitalizations due to CHD could be avoided over the seven years. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that omega-3 supplementation in older individuals may yield substantial cost-savings by reducing the risk of CHD. It should be noted that additional health and cost benefits need to be revisited and re-evaluated as more is known about possible data sources or as new data become available.


Grant : Research on New Functional Food Materials with Domestic Agricultural Products

Supported by : Rural Development Administration


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