U.S. Making Little Progress in Health Care Improvements, Annual Report Says
U.S. residents "have made little, if any, progress" in improving their health since 2000, according to a report released Monday by the United Health Foundation and the American Public Health Association, the Columbus Dispatch reports. The report, titled "America's Health Rankings 2005," examined 18 health measures -- including personal choices, community factors and health policies -- and ranked each state according to their grades (Crane, Columbus Dispatch, 12/13).
It also compared the health of U.S. residents to that of residents in other countries, including the United Kingdom and Japan (Bloomberg, 12/12). According to the Dispatch, U.S. residents' health improved at a rate of 1.5% annually through the 1990s, but since 2000 it has improved by just 0.3% annually. UHF said improvements are needed particularly in anti-tobacco policies, obesity, infant mortality, health insurance coverage and access to primary care.
The report said health measures are worse for blacks, Latinos and other minorities in many cases, "highlighting a need to eliminate disparities" in the U.S., according to the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 12/13).
The report ranked Minnesota as the healthiest state for the 10th time since 1990, reflecting its low rates of uninsured individuals, premature deaths, infant mortality and child poverty, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Salisbury, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 12/13). Minnesota was followed by Vermont, New Hampshire, Utah, Hawaii and North Dakota. The states that received the lowest rankings -- from 46th to 50th -- were Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi (Smith, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 12/13).
The lowest-ranked states have higher rates of premature deaths, infant mortality, cardiovascular and motor vehicle deaths, and "high percentages of children in poverty," the Pioneer Press reports (St. Paul Pioneer Press, 12/13).
Reed Tuckson, UHF's vice president, said, "We are stagnating now. We have got to really get busy" (Bloomberg, 12/12).
Georges Benjamin, executive director of APHA, said, "When you get back to the root cause" of health disparities, "it comes down to poverty (and) lack of health insurance" (Columbus Dispatch, 12/13). Benjamin said the U.S. government should fund more public health campaigns to encourage U.S. residents to change unhealthy behaviors (Bloomberg, 12/12).
The report is available online.