Uninsured individuals experience more adverse outcomes (physically, mentally, and financially) than insured individuals. Individuals without insurance are less likely to receive preventive and diagnostic healthcare services, are more often diagnosed at a later disease stage, and, on average, receive less treatment for their condition than insured individuals. The Institute of Medicine reports that the uninsured population has a 25 percent higher mortality rate than the insured population.

High School Graduation

Not only does one’s education level affect his or her health; education can have multigenerational implications that make it an important measure for the health of future generations. Evidence links maternal education with the health of her offspring. Parents’ level of education affects their children’s health directly through resources available to the children, and also indirectly through the quality of schools that the children attend. Further, education levels also positively influence a variety of social and psychological factors. For example, increased education improves an individual’s self-perception of both his or her sense of personal control and social standing, which also have… Full Story

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Chlamydia is the most common bacterial STI in North America and is one of the major causes of tubal infertility, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, and chronic pelvic pain. STIs are associated with a significantly increased risk of morbidity and mortality, including increased risk of cervical cancer, involuntary infertility, and premature death. STIs also have a high economic burden on society, costing billions of dollars each year to treat.

Children Living in Poverty

Poverty can result in an increased risk of mortality, prevalence of medical conditions and disease incidence, depression, intimate partner violence, and poor health behaviors. While negative health effects resulting from poverty are present at all ages, children in poverty experience greater morbidity and mortality than adults due to increased risk of accidental injury and lack of health care access. Children’s risk of poor health and premature mortality may also be increased due to the poor educational achievement associated with poverty. The children in poverty measure is highly correlated with overall poverty rates.

Teen Birth Rate

Evidence suggests teen pregnancy significantly increases the risk of repeat pregnancy and of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, both of which can result in adverse health outcomes for mothers, children, families, and communities. A systematic review of the sexual risk among pregnant and mothering teens concludes that pregnancy is a marker for current and future sexual risk behavior and adverse outcomes. Pregnant teens are more likely than older women to receive late or no prenatal care, have gestational hypertension and anemia, and achieve poor maternal weight gain. Teens are also more likely than older women to have a pre-term delivery… Full Story

Premature Death

Premature death is represented by the years of potential life lost before age 75. Every death occurring before the age of 75 contributes to the total number of years of potential life lost. For example, a person dying at age 25 contributes 50 years of life lost, whereas a person who dies at age 65 contributes 10 years of life lost to a county’s YPLL. The YPLL measure is presented as a rate per 100,000 population and is age-adjusted to the 2000 US population. Measuring YPLL allows communities to target resources to high-risk areas and further investigate the causes of premature… Full Story

Poor or Fair Health

A strong association between self-reported health status and mortality has been well documented; thus it is a useful indicator of morbidity within a community. Self-reported health status is a general measure of health-related quality of life in a population. This measure is based on survey responses to the question: “In general, would you say that your health is excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor?” The value reported in the County Health Rankings is the percent of adult respondents who rate their health “fair” or “poor.”

Low Birthweight

Health risks are greatest for very low birthweight babies but infants born below 2,500 grams also face increased risk of morbidity and premature mortality. Although gestational age may be a better measure than low birthweight as it better accounts for a child’s neurological and physical development at birth, gestational age can be difficult to accurately ascertain, whereas birthweight is easily measured and reported.

Drinking Water Safety

Recent studies estimate that contaminants in drinking water sicken 1.1 million people each year. Ensuring the safety of drinking water is important to prevent illness, birth defects, and death for those with compromised immune systems. A number of other health problems have been associated with contaminated water, including nausea, lung and skin irritation, cancer, kidney, liver, and nervous system damage.

Air Pollution

Fine particulate matter is defined as particles of air pollutants with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 micrometers. These particles can be directly emitted from sources such as forest fires, or they can form when gases emitted from power plants, industries, and automobiles react in the air. The relationship between elevated air pollution, particularly fine particulate matter, and ozone, and compromised health has been well documented. Negative consequences of ambient air pollution include decreased lung function, chronic bronchitis, asthma, and other adverse pulmonary effects.