Arkansas has some of the highest rates of individual risk factors for chronic disease in the nation. Nearly 36 percent of adults are considered obese, 31 percent are physically inactive, 1 and 26 percent smoke tobacco. These factors contribute to chronic disease rates that include 39 percent of Arkansans having hypertension and 13 percent with diabetes. As a result Arkansas’s national health ranking has been between 44th and 49th for the last two decades and is currently at 48th . For 2013, projected costs of chronic disease treatment and lost productivity were $26 billion. By making reasonable improvements in preventing and managing chronic disease, Arkansas could make progress in health and economic improvement. Businesses and policymakers have seen the value of investing in preventive care and encouraging individuals to make better health choices related to diet, physical activity, and tobacco use. Furthermore, some businesses prohibit the hiring of people who use tobacco.
This issue brief is part of a series that discusses the components and effectiveness of healthy behavior incentive programs with recommendations for their establishment and their impact on individuals, businesses, and Medicaid.