Washington Named One of Top 10 Healthiest States in the U.S.
A new report from the United Health Foundation has ranked Washington No. 9 on a list of healthiest states in the nation. The report, America’s Health Rankings, evaluated 35 core measures in five model categories: Behaviors, community and environmental conditions, policies, clinical care, and outcomes data.
Washington was ranked No. 7 last year, but fell in the rankings this year in part because of a high incidence of pertussis and low meningococcal immunization coverage among adolescents. The Alliance’s 2017 Community Checkup provides more detail on the state’s low immunization rates, showing that only 15% of adolescents receive appropriate vaccinations by age 13. Through its Own Your Health initiative, the Alliance has also been helping to educate the public about the importance of vaccinations.
Areas where the America’s Health Rankings report indicated Washington is doing well compared to others around the country include a lower prevalence of smoking, lower preventable hospitalization rate, and a lower prevalence of low birthweight newborns. Washington ranked No. 5 overall for clinical care measures, but was No. 20 for community and environment measures, which includes children in poverty, occupational fatalities, and chlamydia. In fact, the report found that in the past five years, chlamydia has increased 28% in Washington. The Community Checkup also shows that screening rates for chlamydia are especially poor, with only 43% of commercially insured women being appropriately screened.
Overall, it should be celebrated that Washington remains in the top 10 based on the measures in this report. However, as we see every year, based on the quality measures in the Community Checkup, Washington frequently falls well short of the national 90th percentile and there is tremendous variation among physician practices. We have lots of work to do, but also take time to celebrate the successes that have been achieved.
See the graphic below for additional Washington state highlights from the report.