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Monday, April 30, 2012 - 3:54am

Wealthiest Counties Are Healthiest

New data shows the wealthiest counties in the state are also the healthiest.

"Partner Up! For Public Health" compared health and wealth rankings of 156 counties.

The study shows that poor health is a drag on economic development. For example, poorer, unhealthier communities have nearly double the Medicaid costs of healthier, wealthier areas. It's the state who pays for that increase.

Michael Erikson, Director of Georgia State’s Institute of Public Health says an economic initiative to improve community health is meant to rejuvenate the economy and bring jobs to Georgia:

Whether it’s access to care or whether it’s walkability, farmers markets, things that improve the quality of life. And I think we could be doing a better job on the health side, so people look to GA as a healthy, dynamic place to live and work.

Charles Hayslett oversaw the study and says Georgia policy makers need to connect the dots between stimulating economic development by improving public health:

“The purpose is to put a spotlight on that relationship and hopefully generate some policy discussion on how you address the connection between the two.”

Fayette and Oconee counties tied for first based on their combined health status and economic vitality. Macon County finished last.

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