©2018 Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Unhealthy Lifestyles Driving up Michigan Health Care Costs, Slowing Down Economic Growth, Job Creation

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Michael Shore
(517) 335-4590

A study commissioned by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) concludes that the unhealthy lifestyles of Michigan residents make them vulnerable to coronary disease and diabetes, major factors that are driving up the cost of health care in Michigan.

"This study makes it official: Too many Michigan residents weigh too much, smoke too much, and don't exercise enough-all of which contribute to making Michigan among the least healthy states in the nation," said MEDC President and CEO Don Jakeway. "We need to educate more of our residents about the direct relationship between their own health, bottom-line health care costs and the number of jobs available."

According to the study, overweight and obese individuals can expect to incur up to $1,500 in additional medical costs every year because of their unhealthy lifestyles. Those costs are often borne by Michigan employers through higher health care insurance premiums. The MEDC commissioned the Altarum study to explore the critical link between the costs of health care and the strength of Michigan's economy. Only the health and wellness results were released this morning. The full study is expected to be reviewed and approved by the MEDC executive committee later next month.

Jakeway said the study will be helpful to the state in developing a strategy to reduce the cost of health care.

Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Michigan's first Surgeon General, said that while encouraging healthy lifestyles and preventing chronic disease are critically important, Michigan needs to begin by focusing its collective energies on tobacco cessation initiatives.

"We have been presented with a unique opportunity to improve the health of hundreds of thousands of Michigan citizens," Wisdom said. "Every Michigan citizen pays more than $500 every year in state and federal taxes to treat effects of smoking-related illnesses. Encouraging our citizens to quit can make them-and their pocketbooks healthier-right now. Recognizing the link between better health and lower expenses for citizens and businesses is an important first step toward helping citizens significantly reduce their dependency on tobacco and ultimately create a healthier Michigan."

According to Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth director David Hollister, the study should alert local leaders that community-wide efforts to encourage walking, weight reduction and help smokers quit can pay off in a big way by sending a positive signal to potential employers.

"Communities need to understand that companies may take one look at a locality with less than favorable health statistics and be scared off by the potential impact on their bottom line," Hollister said. "Physical health and economic health go hand in hand."

The study found that Michigan has the highest rates of death from coronary heart disease, ranks second for obesity and diabetes, and ranks sixth for smoking when compared to any of the benchmark states in the study.

The benchmark states are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life.

Click the attachment below to see the Comparative charts of Michigan health problems relative to states benchmarked in the MEDC/Altarum study.