The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conducted a study to examine if Medicare should fund an effort aimed at discouraging alcohol use. The hypothesis was that reducing drinking would save the program money. One little problem: the study found that drinking wine reduces health care expenditures.
Using data gathered over a five-year period on more than 4,000 healthy adults in Forsyth County, N.C., Sacramento County, Calif., Washington County, Md., and Allegheny County, Pa., the study found that light to moderate wine drinkers each save Medicare about $400 annually.
The study looked at the rate of medical care, hospital stays and costs of each stay. People consuming six to 13 glasses of wine per week had the lowest Medicare costs, when compared to nondrinkers or heavy drinkers. Non-drinkers and heavy drinkers cost Medicare about the same amount of money.