The Most (and Least) Healthy States in America

Submitted by Priceonomics

With the start of a new year, many of us have embarked on self-betterment resolutions. The vast majority of these are health-related: Eat healthier, get more exercise, sleep better, stay fit, lose weight.

We decided to analyze data to see where people in America were the most (and least) healthy. We analyzed anonymized data from Priceonomics customer Policygenius, a leading online insurance marketplace. Using this data set, we could how people applying for life insurance compare health-wise to the nation at large — and where in particular certain conditions, like tobacco use, heart disease or diabetes, are above or below the national average. Additionally, we looked at the financial costs associated with these conditions as compared to a healthy lifestyle.

We’ll explore these topics in depth. Here’s a summary of our findings.

  • The least healthy states in our analysis are North Dakota, Alabama, and South Carolina. The most healthy are Montana, Wyoming, and Utah.

  • Life insurance applicants in North Dakota (34.8%) have much higher rates of tobacco use than the national average (20.5%), while those in Utah (8.2%) have much lower rates.

  • Life insurance applicants in South Carolina (17.3%) have much higher rates of high cholesterol than the national average (11.8%), while applicants in Montana (2.1%) have much lower rates.

  • Smoking has the highest impact on life insurance premiums (342% increase), while high cholesterol has the lowest impact (31% more).

  • Life insurance applicants overall have lower rates of high cholesterol, tobacco use, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, asthma, and depression than the average American — but figures vary widely by state.

Now, let’s take a deeper look at the data.

Life insurance applicants are healthier than average

One might expect unhealthy people to apply for life insurance more than healthy people, since they’re at higher risk of no longer being there to support their families. Counterintuitively, the opposite is true: People applying for life insurance pursue healthier lifestyles than average.

We looked at two years worth of anonymized data (11/2015 to 11/2017) from life insurance applicants with various providers. To ensure the highest accuracy, we limited our data set to phone-verified applicants. For the national data, we used figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, National Institute of Mental Health and others. At 38 years old, the median age of our applicants matches the national average provided in 2015 census data.

Data source: Policygenius

Interestingly, the average life insurance applicant in our data set had lower percentages of ailments across the board.

Life insurance applicants, on average, have lower rates of high cholesterol (25% less than national average), tobacco use (22%), high blood pressure (14.4%), diabetes (7.1%), sleep apnea (4.2%), asthma (3.6%) and depression (0.7%).

Let’s take a look at how health varies geographically.

Health conditions vary widely cross America

Though life insurance applicants are healthier than the average American, it largely depends on where they’re from.

To get a bigger-picture sense of this, we broke down each health condition by state. Averaging out the percentages for all ailments across states, here are the top 10 healthiest (and least healthy) states:

Data source: Policygenius. Chart made using Priceonomics chart builder.

Overall, folks in Montana and Wyoming are tied for healthiest life insurance applicants. The western U.S. seems particularly healthy, claiming four of the five top states. On the flip side, the southern U.S. seems particularly unhealthy: though North Dakota claims the top spot (12.4% of insurance applicants have an ailment there), the South takes three of the top five positions.

Next, let’s get into more granular detail by breaking down each ailment on a state level. Starting with high cholesterol, we can see there’s a wide variance.


Data source: Policygenius. Chart made using Priceonomics chart builder.

Life insurance applicants in South Carolina (17.3%), West Virginia (16.7%) and Idaho (16.4%) have much higher rates of high cholesterol than the national average (11.8%). Meanwhile, applicants in Montana (2.1%), New Mexico (3.1%) and D.C. (5.6%) have much lower rates.

Data source: Policygenius. Chart made using Priceonomics chart builder.

Life insurance applicants in North Dakota (34.8%), Vermont (28.6%) and Kansas (27.2%) have much higher rates of tobacco use than the national average (20.5%), while applicants in Utah (8.2%), Idaho (8.2%) and Hawaii (8.9%) have much lower rates.

Data source: Policygenius. Chart made using Priceonomics chart builder.

Life insurance applicants in Alabama (23.2%), Louisiana (22.4%) and Mississippi (22.2%) have much higher rates of high blood pressure than the national average (14.6%), while applicants in Montana (2.1%), D.C. (6.8%) and Rhode Island (7.1%) have much lower rates.

Data source: Policygenius. Chart made using Priceonomics chart builder.

Life insurance applicants in Kansas (6.1%), Louisiana (4.8%) and North Dakota (4.3%) have much higher rates of diabetes than the national average (2.3%), while applicants in Missouri (0.4%), D.C. (0.6%) and Wisconsin (0.7%) have much lower rates.

Data source: Policygenius. Chart made using Priceonomics chart builder.

Life insurance applicants in Iowa (5.5%), Missouri (5.2%) and Indiana (4.8%) have much higher rates of sleep apnea than the national average (2.4%), while those in Oklahoma (0.8%), Michigan (1.1%) and D.C. (1.1%) have much lower rates.

Data source: Policygenius. Chart made using Priceonomics chart builder.

Life insurance applicants in Rhode Island (11.9%), D.C. (7.9%) and Hawaii (7.1%) have much higher rates of asthma than the national average (4.4%), while applicants in Maine (1.4%), New Mexico (1.5%) and Idaho (1.6%) have much lower rates.

Data source: Policygenius. Chart made using Priceonomics chart builder.

Life insurance applicants in North Dakota (17.4%), Iowa (12.7%) and Delaware (10.3%) have much higher rates of depression than the national average (6.3%), while applicants in Louisiana (2%), South Dakota (2.4%) and Alaska (3.1%) have much lower rates.

Keep in mind, these figures don’t speak to the overall averages of these conditions in each state, but rather the averages among life insurance applicants.

How does my health impact my finances?

Though life insurance applicants seem to be healthier than the average American, those who do have health ailments and/or certain habits end up paying significantly more money for their policies.

To find out exactly how much more, we used a profile of the average life insurance applicant — a 38 year-old male applying for a $500,000, 20-year term policy, which will cost $25.37 per month.

Data source: Policygenius

Far and away, smoking causes the highest increase in a policy’s monthly cost. Smokers pay $112.23 — or an astounding 342% more than average. Over 20 years, the smoker will pay about $21,000 more than the non-smoker for the same coverage.

This is likely because smoking increases death from all causes in both men and women, and is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.

Diabetes also ranks highly, at 210% more, as do (somewhat surprisingly) sleep apnea (190%) and asthma (152%). High cholesterol and high blood pressure, equally surprisingly, seem to have less of an effect on insurance costs.

To conclude, our report shows people applying for life insurance, on the whole, are healthier than the average American. Aside from certain regional outliers, this proves to be true across the board. Additionally, a healthy lifestyle comes with significant savings on financial protection.

Comments

DownWithYogaPants Thu, 02/01/2018 - 20:46 Permalink

Probably all correlates to age demographics of the state in question.  

Doctors should be only allowed to accept cash money on the barrel head.  That would keep costs limited to what people can pay.

It'll get back to that after the collapse.

nmewn stizazz Thu, 02/01/2018 - 21:13 Permalink

ObamaCare fixed all this lifestyle bullshit so between prying data mining "health coaches" about to deny you coverage for having refined sugar in your coffee and the "health nutz" having heart attacks jogging in & out of traffic, the stragglers will soon be all accounted for. 

Whatz next? ;-)

In reply to by stizazz

techpriest nmewn Thu, 02/01/2018 - 21:18 Permalink

One might expect unhealthy people to apply for life insurance more than healthy people, since they’re at higher risk of no longer being there to support their families. Counterintuitively, the opposite is true: People applying for life insurance pursue healthier lifestyles than average.

There is nothing counter-intuitive about this at all. People in better health are likely more concerned about their well being and are more willing to make better choices now to avoid trouble in the future. People who don't care about their health don't care, or are unwilling to take action, for their future.

In reply to by nmewn

Big Brother Potato Farmer Thu, 02/01/2018 - 23:59 Permalink

Also, one needs cholesterol to synthesize Vitamin D along with ultra-violet light.  This speaks to North Dakota with a high concentration of Scandinavian descendants.  They are exceptionally efficient at synthesizing Vitamin D but naturally have higher prevalences of cholesterol. 

--

Speaking to the damaged arterial locations, I surmise the root cause is inflammation; and inflammation is bodies natural reaction to foreign organisms and substances that one's body rejects.  Solution:  minimize consumption of sugar (in all its processed forms), Norman Borlaug-style "midget" wheat carbs, and lactose (dairy, as sourced from cows).

In reply to by Potato Farmer

Global Douche Potato Farmer Fri, 02/02/2018 - 02:53 Permalink

The kind of cholesterol also matters. One of the best means of ridding heart disease? Keep your teeth clean! The same plaque which clogs arteries around the heart is the same in one's mouth which likely migrated into the blood below one's teeth. Gradually, dentistry is waking up to this correlation, yet the patient should have these conversations with both their dentist and cardiologist as I have in the past. 

In reply to by Potato Farmer

Theosebes Goodfellow Global Douche Fri, 02/02/2018 - 07:10 Permalink

~" Life insurance applicants overall have lower rates of high cholesterol, tobacco use, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, asthma, and depression than the average American — but figures vary widely by state."~

The key word here is applicants. Some of the aforementioned "symptoms", will keep you from even being able to buy life insurance. I wished they had shown how many people they denied coverage due to past medical history.

In reply to by Global Douche

Al Tinfoil nmewn Fri, 02/02/2018 - 00:06 Permalink

Perhaps the next winning policy for the Democrats will be "The Affordable Life Insurance Act".  Under TALIA (aka "FauxcahontasLife", or "KamalaLife", or "GetaLife", perhaps), every American will have to purchase life insurance or pay a huge penalty to Washington (the ObamaCare penalty was not high enough, causing ObamaCare to fail). 

Every American will be entitled to the same life insurance coverage regardless of age and health (all persons who are registered voters or who voted in the last federal election will be eligible, including all the illegal immigrants and dead people who vote - this will ensure that all Democrat voters are eligible).  Life insurance companies will form "pools" and "exchanges" so the otherwise uninsurable will be able to buy life insurance.  Read the fine print about deductibles and co-pays (a surviving spouse will have to kick in 50% of the insurance payout upon the death of a spouse, so the surviving spouse does not expect a jackpot and will be more likely to resist the urge to off the spouse).

For those unable to afford life insurance premiums, the government will create the "Supplemental Life Insurance Coverage Payment", or "Slick-Pee" rider for their EBT cards. 

Insurance premiums may vary, depending upon life insurance company profits and executive dividend requirements, but rest assured that premiums will be adjusted as necessary to ensure no insurance company suffers adverse operating results as the result of extending coverage to dead persons or persons in seriously ill health.   

And if you like your insurance agent or insurance company, you can keep your insurance agent or your insurance company (but not both). 

In reply to by nmewn

bilbert Thu, 02/01/2018 - 20:57 Permalink

Color me surprised - Colorado NOT in the top 10 healthiest, and West Virginia not in the 10 unhealthiest?

Let me go for a quick 5K run and a cool-down of a Big Gulp of Mountain Dew, while I process this information.....

 

DPLETTENBERG Thu, 02/01/2018 - 20:59 Permalink

It's funny that Montana and North Dakota are the extremes when they are adjacent to each other. But, from driving through both states, Montana seems like a better place to be. Maybe it is the mountains in the western part of the state but there seems to be nothing in North Dakota outside of Bismark. 

just the tip DPLETTENBERG Thu, 02/01/2018 - 21:15 Permalink

i noticed the common border as well. in N/D all i can think of is the tobacco use of the tribes, yeah, i know this is ZH and it's not that tribe.

the only thing i missed on the health factors these fuckwits who made this survey was the category of how many cities in your fucking neighborhood put bleach on the sidewalks.  i guess that just doesn't count as a health factor.

In reply to by DPLETTENBERG

Kefeer Thu, 02/01/2018 - 21:03 Permalink

Quote: "One (a dumb one like you) might expect unhealthy people to apply for life insurance more than healthy people, since they’re at higher risk of no longer being there to support their families. Counterintuitively, the opposite is true: People applying for life insurance pursue healthier lifestyles than average." - end

No dipstick; paying 342% puts up a barrier - intuitively speaking.  Men pay more for no valid reason and the obese life expectancy is less than the "nicotine", which use to be tobacco...you screw those who have gotten rid of the tar in favor of vapor.  You charge men more because men are more likely to get life insurance; yet let it be known that women live only a few years (2-3 now) longer and that gap is closing thanks to the lack of exercise and high fructose food binging. - scammers!!

Golden Showers Thu, 02/01/2018 - 21:05 Permalink

Percentage of people who smoke crack cocaine, have schizophrenia, kill their children / parents, are sexual predators, are illegal immigrants, heroin users, alcoholics, prescribed opiates... they didn't make it on the list. People who are applying for insurance are pussies because they know fucking well that admitting to having psoriasis will get you denied for insurance.

As a matter of fact, insurance companies only insure the pussiest of people. No offense to pussy. I mean, they insure total wimps and there's nothing bad ass about having insurance.

The only thing that is bad ass is if you haven't fucked yourself up. So why should you pay them? They should pay you for being healthy. Fuck everyone. It's either "Natural selection" or keeping morons in the gene pool. But you still pay for it. Fuck People.

thebigunit Thu, 02/01/2018 - 21:08 Permalink

Time to turn on your BS filter.

Idaho and Montana are similar, adjoining states.  Yet, they are too often at opposite ends of the rankings.

The warning lights in your command center should be flashing:

"SYSTEMATIC ERROR"

"SYSTEMATIC ERROR"

"SYSTEMATIC ERROR"

"DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!"

PiratePiggy thebigunit Thu, 02/01/2018 - 22:21 Permalink

As are North Dakota and South Dakota. Each is in the top 5, one for the top 5 worst and the other for the top 5 best.

 

I am not an expert on the Dakotas and it could be noise, but each has a small population. It could be that one had a major pipeline construction project and the other doesn't, or a larger energy industry.  I hope someone can share some insights because I am tempted to waste some time digging into this.  lol

 

In reply to by thebigunit

Kat Daddy Thu, 02/01/2018 - 21:09 Permalink

N. Dakota is the outside, long shot, taking the lead, past Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana! Oilfield trash, roughnecks and strippers. Like "Hell on Wheels".  N. Dakota is "Party Town USA"!  Wait 'til  oil is $100/brrl, ND will win it all!

Branded Fri, 02/02/2018 - 00:18 Permalink

A lot of hating on tobacco, but fat asses & their associated diseases are now the #1 health problem.

As a height/weight appropriate tobacco user, I ask, 'When are these fat fucks going to stop raising my insurance rates?'.

Pernicious Gol… Fri, 02/02/2018 - 00:47 Permalink

You can't extrapolate the data to any conclusions about entire state populations. There's nothing to show the health of people who apply for life insurance is similar to the health of people who don't apply. In fact, it's a pretty good bet a lot of sick people don't even bother applying. That right there strongly suggests the populations are different.