New Report Grades States on Women’s Health
Institute for Women's Policy Research released its third biennial national Status of Women in the States report, measuring how American women fare in the arenas of politics, economics, health, education, and reproductive rights. The report assigned each state five respective grades, and although there exist wide differences between the states, the majority of states earned C's. "American women are on a slow and uneven road to equality," IWPR President Heidi Hartmann said during a press conference, adding, "Some states are stuck in a rut, while a few are building superhighways." Nine indicators were used to determine women's health status in each state, including heart disease mortality, breast cancer mortality, lung cancer mortality, frequency of diabetes, incidence of AIDS and chlamydia, poor mental health, suicide and mean days of activity limitations, with wide variation among regions reported.
Overall, Mountain and northern Midwestern regions ranked well for the health of women, while Southeastern states ranked poorly. Women in Hawaii enjoy the best health nationally, with the state falling among the top five on nearly half of the health and well-being indicators and receiving an overall grade of A-. Conversely, New York placed in the bottom five states on four of the nine indicators, sharing an F with Kentucky. Heart disease mortality is twice as high for women in New York as it is for those in Hawaii, while lung cancer is three times higher for women in Nevada than for women its neighboring state Utah. Women in Nevada are also three times as likely to commit suicide as women in the District of Columbia or New York, and the rate of mental illness is four times higher for women in Kentucky than in Arizona. Additionally, the rate of diabetes among women in Mississippi, Alabama and Oklahoma is three times higher than in Alaska.
The study found correlating trends between health insurance coverage and overall health, noting that in most states, more women lack health coverage than was reported two years ago. Uninsured rates currently range from 10% of women in Hawaii and Minnesota to 25% of women in Texas and New Mexico (Status of Women in the States, Institute for Women's Policy Research, 11/15).