Just having a health insurance card encourages a healthier lifestyle, according to the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index.

Outside of even gender, ethnicity, education, employment, income and age Americans who have health insurance received a higher Healthy Behaviors Index score than all ages without insurance between the ages of 18 and 64.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which also includes the Healthy Behaviors Index, reports that 80 percent of all adults under the age of 65 have health insurance in America.

Almost 200,000 individuals were interviewed between January and October 2011. Participants were asked how frequently they exercised, if they smoked cigarettes, and about their eating habits, particularly if they maintained a healthy diet the day before and if they had eaten more than five servings of fruits and vegetables in the previous seven days.

Not only were Americans with health insurance less likely to smoke, but they were also found more likely to eat at least five servings of fresh fruit an vegetables. Surprisingly, however, there was only a small difference in the amount of physical activity between the uninsured and the insured.

Though it is unclear why individuals with insurance have healthier habits than the uninsured, there is speculation that insured Americans simply put a greater emphasis on their health.

The amount of influence insurance programs provided by the participants’ place of employment is equally hard to gauge. The study showed that only eight percent of working individuals surveyed noted that their healthcare program assisted them in making improvements to their health.

This may change in the future due to the fact that federal healthcare legislation is being put in place that will allow employers to offer rewards and penalties that may effect up to 30 percent all premiums in 2014 with the option to increase to 50 percent. This, no doubt, would influence one’s healthy behavior.

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