Smart Start Helps Produce Healthy Results

Many factors come into play in determining one’s health status. But if the subject is limited to individuals doing all they can to take care of themselves, a key ingredient is that person’s education level.

An example from a column: Florida Medicaid recipients are eligible for financial credits for completing tasks as simple as keeping a doctor’s appointment or getting a flu shot. The credits that were redeemed, however, paled in comparison to the first-year administrative costs of the program. The trade-off appears simple. See the doctor and earn credits for many common health care pharmacy items. But the connection is not registering with the intended recipients.

The author writes:

Genes and bad luck aside, the higher up the educational ladder, the healthier and longer life a person is likely to live. High school dropouts, the statistics show, are not likely to live to a ripe old age. Just getting a high school degree decreases the probability of being in poor health by 35 percent; a bachelor’s degree decreases the chances by 55 percent. "Education," explained Robert Kaestner of the University of Illinois at Chicago, "makes it easier for people to obtain and process information about the causes and consequences of health."

What does it all mean? Early childhood education (with family status and home environment a major part of the mix) is critical, not just for eventual workforce abilities and compensation levels — but long-term health prospects. No, we’re not placing this task at the hands of teachers. It’s parents and other caregivers who play that most important role. Our job is to help them in a responsible way, and it’s their duty to do everything they can to benefit their loved ones.