SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — A new study finds cutting California’s high school drop out rate could save the state billions in public health care costs.

Excellent Education, a Washington D.C. policy group, looked at spending in all 50 states. According to their findings, a high-school graduate is 50 percent less likely to use Medicaid than a drop out.

The study concluded that the state of California could save $131 million in treating heart disease, $268 million for obesity, $203 million for alcoholism and $274 for smoking.

Troy Flint, spokesman for the Oakland Unified School District, which has a 40 percent dropout rate, but also 15 school-based health clinics (the most of any school district of its size in the state), said it’s more than teaching kids on dangers of smoking, drinking and poor nutrition.

He noted the importance of getting them to succeed academically, which can also change who and where they hang out.

“Because as people’s income levels rise, as they get into different environments that are healthier; generally these are more prosperous environments. Then we see that they have less need to rely on the health-care system,” said Flint.

The report also finds high-school graduates live 6-9 years longer than dropouts, partly because they have access to health care and because they’re less likely to be working in jobs with health risks.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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