A new study finds that Medicare costs tend to be lower in counties with more forests and shrublands than in counties dominated by other types of land cover.
A new study finds that Medicare costs tend to be lower in counties with more forests and shrublands than in counties dominated by other types of land cover. The relationship persists even when accounting for economic, geographic or other factors that might independently influence health care costs, researchers report.
The analysis included county-level health and environmental data from 3,086 of the 3,103 counties in the continental U.S.
Urban and rural counties with the lowest socioeconomic status appeared to benefit the most from increases in forests and shrubs, said University of Illinois graduate student Douglas A. Becker, who led the new research with Matt Browning, a professor of recreation, sport and tourism at the U. of I.
“At first, I was surprised by this,” Becker said. “But then it occurred to me that low-income communities are getting the biggest bang for their buck because they probably have the most to gain.”
Read more at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Image: University of Illinois graduate student Douglas A. Becker and his colleagues found that US counties with more trees and shrubs tended to have lower Medicare costs. (Credit: Photo by Fred Zwicky)