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Does Wealth Affect Health?

New list of healthiest U.S. counties is similar to list of wealthiest counties

happy wealthy couple in front of their house

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A recent survey looked at three factors to determine the healthiest counties: length of life, health behaviors and health care access.

A new list of the country's healthiest counties, published recently by finance technology company SmartAsset, mirrors U.S. Census Bureau lists of the wealthiest counties in the nation. 

Los Alamos County, N.M., topped SmartAsset's second annual list of the healthiest; it ranks fifth on the Census Bureau's most recent list of counties with the highest median household incomes. 

SmartAsset's top 10 healthiest counties are Los Alamos, plus Howard County, Md., Montgomery County, Md., Santa Clara County, Calif., Douglas County, Colo., Boulder County, Colo., San Mateo County, Calif., Marin County, Calif., Summit County, Utah, and Fairfax County, Va. 

The 10 healthiest counties in the study include five of the 10 wealthiest in the country, according to the Census Bureau, and eight of the top 20 wealthiest. The richest county in America is Loudoun County, Va., followed by Howard, Falls Church City, Va.; Fairfax; Los Alamos; Hunterdon County, N.J.; Douglas; Santa Clara; Arlington County, Va.; and Williamson County, Tenn. SmartAsset listed Loudoun — a Washington, D.C., suburb with a median household income of $134,609 — as the 17th healthiest in the country.

SmartAsset looked at three factors to determine their healthiest list: length of life, health behaviors and health care access. To create the health behaviors index, the study measured the premature death rate in 2,764 American counties, the adult smokers rate and the rate of adults that report binge or heavy drinking, along with adult obesity rates. There were no metrics related to opioid addiction.

To measure health care access, the study looked at the number of primary care physicians per 100,000 residents, as well as the uninsured rate, measured through the percentage of residents under 65 without health insurance.

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