Investments in Education Are Investments in Health

Students in a high school classroom.

A federal, state and business case on how investing in education is an investment in health.

The Issue

Health care accounts for a vast proportion of the nation’s federal and state budgets. At the same time, the business costs of providing private employee health insurance are steadily climbing. Amid these escalating expenses, policymakers and business owners are often pressured to limit their investments in other areas, including education.

What many fail to realize, however, is that education and health are intrinsically linked. These three policy briefs show federal policymakers, state legislators, and business leaders how investments in education are investments in health—and can potentially lower health care costs.

Key Findings

  • Federal, state and business spending on health care go disproportionately to those with less education, who tend to be sicker and require more intensive care. 

  • If the health status of less-educated Americans were the same as that of their college-educated peers, the related improvements in health would save more than a trillion dollars annually.

  • Illness-related productivity losses cost U.S. employers $323 billion in 2013.

Conclusion

We know strategic investment in education is important for the economic wellbeing of the country—but the return on these investments also includes enormous health benefits and and their impact on soaring health care costs. Cutting spending on education to pay for health care could be counterproductive.

About the Grantee

The Education and Health Initiative (EHI) is a program of the VCU Center on Society and Health, an academic research center that studies the health implications of social factors—such as education, income, neighborhood and community environmental conditions, and public policy.