Cutting the high school dropout rate by 50 percent could save Illinois $265 million in Medicaid costs. This is according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, which says the annual savings would come from $71 million in preventative costs linked to reduced smoking, $70 million related to obesity, $53 million related to alcoholism, and another $34 million associated with heart disease. That puts Illinois fifth-most nationally in terms of projected savings.
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“Those are resources that could have gone to other programs,” said the report’s lead author, Bill DeBaun. The study finds that high school graduates are 50 percent less likely than dropouts to use Medicaid. DeBaun added that it goes beyond graduates having greater access to employer-provided health care. “The more educated you are, the better able you are to follow doctor’s orders, or have the higher propensity to seek out preventive medical care,” he said. The report claims halving the dropout rate would save $7.3 billion in annual Medicaid spending nationally.