First in Science: More Trees Mean Lower Medicare Bills
Communities with More Trees Face Lower Medicare Costs:
More Evidence that Nature Can Improve Your Health
Research continues to demonstrate the physical and mental benefits of nature. A new study adds to this research by finding that counties with forests have lower Medicare costs. While this study doesn’t conclude causation between forests and lower Medicare costs, it does prove an association which strengthens existing research on the health benefits of nature.
Researchers analyzed health and environmental data from 3,086 of the 3,103 counties in the continental US. They categorized land as urban, shrubland, forest, grassland, or agricultural. These categories were overlaid with Medicare spending per capita. Spending was controlled for factors such as age, sex, race, income, and health care access.
The results showed that for each 1% of land covered in forest, there were an average Medicare savings of $4.32 per person. This equals a total of nearly $6 billion annually in nationwide savings. The savings were the largest amongst low-income communities. By encouraging more forested land, counties can work to reduce Medicare costs in their communities.