Americans Making Progress in Key Health Measures, But Texas Lags

Texas-Health-Infographic-2013Nationwide, Americans improved in more than two-thirds of the measures captured by the American Health Rankings, released Wednesday by United Health Foundation, but health in Texas remains stubbornly sub-par.

Texas ranked 36th in the country in overall health, a one-spot drop from last year’s rankings. The report focused on Texas’ high prevalence of physical inactivity, its crippling percentage of uninsured residents, and its large disparity in health status, based on educational attainment.

Hawaii has taken the title of healthiest state from Vermont, which falls to number two. Minnesota is third, followed by Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Mississippi ranks 50th this year, and Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and West Virginia complete the list of the five least healthy states.

The largest strides, nationwide, were in smoking and obesity rates, researchers found. America’s obesity rate remained approximately the same as in 2012 (27.6 percent of the adult population in 2013, compared with 27.8 percent last year). This marks the first time since 1998 the obesity rate has not worsened.

“I am encouraged by the progress we’ve made this year and am hopeful that the leveling off we see in America’s obesity is a sign of further improvement to come,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., external senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “We should certainly celebrate these gains. They encourage us to continue to identify and effectively implement best practices in these areas and in addressing diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health conditions that compromise Americans’ health and vitality.”

Health determinants where Texas ranks the best:

– drug deaths (9th)
– cancer deaths (14)
– poor mental health days (16th)
– pertussis cases (19th)
– adolescent immunization (19th)

Health determinants where Texas ranks the worst:

– child immunization (41st)
– physical inactivity (42nd)
– primary care physicians (43rd)
– disparity in health status, by educational attainment (46th)
– lack of health insurance (50th)

Texas—with some help from the federal government, when state officials allow it—is trying to turn around some of these negative determinants. The National Health Service Corps repays educational loans for primary-care physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other primary-care providers who choose to work in underserved areas. The Affordable Care Act dedicated $1.5 billion to the program; from 2008 to 2012, the number of Corps clinicians in Texas climbed from 115 to 325.

As for the rate of insured, well, that’s a battle that Washington and Austin have been having for a very long time.

Check out the entire Texas report below:

Texas Health Summary 2013

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