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If we want a more prosperous economy, we’re going to need more healthy people

2 minute read

Charlotte County, Florida, residents are the sickest people in the country. They have the highest levels of coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, and hypertension.

Sumter County, also in Florida, isn’t faring much better. They also have the highest level of those three health issues, just in a different order. In Bland, Virginia, residents have the highest rate of diabetes in the country.

That’s bad news in more ways than one. Blue Cross Blue Shield says a healthy county has higher average incomes, a faster-growing economy, and lower unemployment. The healthiest counties made more money on average, had a higher economic growth, and a lower unemployment rate.

Essentially, the healthier you are, the better off you are financially — and it spreads throughout the community. Healthy people seem to attract more healthy people, which feeds into a healthy economy. Check the index yourself to see how healthy (or unhealthy) your community is, as nearly every county in America is listed.

The healthiest place in America

Florida may be home to the two unhealthiest counties in America, but Nebraska is home to the two most healthy. Grant and Garfield counties are home to the healthiest Americans. Yuma County, Colorado, comes in third.

“The BCBS Health Index shows that health and the economy’s performance go hand in hand,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, says. “Policymakers can use the BCBS Health Index to better understand how health outcomes impact economic growth.”

The index was made specifically to showcase health care experiences at the local and national level. The detailed analysis breaks down sickness and health and its correlation to the economy. Blue Cross Blue Shield says compared to the median index, the healthiest counties had:

  • A per capita income $3,700 higher;
  • A 10-year economic growth 3.5 percent higher;
  • An unemployment rate half a point lower.

“This Index uses the breadth and depth of BCBS data to bring critical health insights to policymakers, community leaders, business leaders and health care professionals, helping them further focus efforts to improve their communities’ health,” says Scott Serota, president and CEO for BCBSA.

Get more money by moving

If you’re in a financial rut, try walking it off. Those who exercise more believe they are more financially well-off.

And if you’re following the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index, you’ll see a trend. Working out has a solid influence over financial health. Healthy body equates to more money. Think about it: if your health is in order, that’ll give you more time to think about your job, your long-term career goals, your money aspirations, and how to achieve it all, rather than your health and wellness. And you spend less on health care.

THE BCBS Health Index measures 200 common diseases in every county in America. On a scale of 0 to 1, counties are measured to see how healthy they are in proportion to their overall population. For instance, if a county scored .86, residents are living at 86 percent of their optimal health. No county got a perfect 100 percent score. The healthiest residents — those in Grant and Garland counties in Nebraska — have a score of .966 and .964, respectively.

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About the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn is a full-time freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She’s president of Blossomers Media, Inc., a web development and online media consulting company. Along with her work on, she’s been a longtime freelancer for Money Talks News — a personal and consumer finance website — and South Florida Gay News — the largest weekly LGBT newspaper in the South. Zinn has written for a variety of other publications, including Huffington Post, The Week, Quartz, Fort Lauderdale Magazine, Indulge, and

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