A study by U.S. economic experts and a major health insurance company says a healthy population is a key ingredient in a healthy and growing economy.
Blue Cross and Moody's Analytics used data from millions of insurance customers to draw a statistical relationship between health and prosperity in the United States.
In counties throughout the 50 states where the population had top health scores, per capita incomes were nearly $4,000 a year higher than in counties where people had just average health scores.
Unemployment showed a similar pattern: The healthiest counties had a jobless rate eight-tenths of a percent better than communities where health was average. Economic growth also was measurably stronger in the healthiest areas.
The report's authors cautioned that the statistical correlation did not prove that healthier people cause a stronger economy, but it did make researchers suspect that such a relationship exists. The report also noted that healthier people lose less time from work and bring better skills to the job, because they didn't miss school lessons.
The report came in the midst of a long-running national debate among American lawmakers about how to devise and pay for a system of health insurance.
Since President Donald Trump took office, his Republican Party has been planning to repeal the Affordable Care Act that former President Barack Obama signed into law seven years ago, claiming it is ineffective and financially ruinous.
The sentiment among lawmakers in Congress conflicted with many American families' feelings about the value of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, and a divided Republican majority in Congress proved unable to repeal or replace the law.