Detroit’s Data Guru Says: Michigan Health Does Not Measure Up

mbrew brought to you by top adDetroit’s Data Guru Says: Candlewickshop_May2014Michigan Health Does Not Measure Up

(Guest blog by Kurt Metzger, Detroit’s Data Guru, Feb. 21, 2015)

America’s Health Ranking ® is the longest running annual assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis. For the past 25 years, America’s Health Rankings® has analyzed a comprehensive set of behaviors, community and environmental conditions, policies, and clinical care data to provide a holistic view of the health of the nation.
The report defines Health as being “a result of our individual genetic predisposition to disease, behaviors, community and environment, policies, and clinical care. Each of us— individually, as a Detroit_GT_02community, and as a society—strives to optimize these health determinants so that all can have a long, disease-free, and robust life regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status.”
“The ultimate purpose of America’s Health Rankings® is to stimulate action by individuals, elected officials, health care professionals, public health professionals, employers, educators, and communities to improve the health of the US population.” The report is designed to promote public conversation concerning health and to provide information to facilitate citizen, community, and group participation. Each of us, whether our role be as an individual, employee, employer, educator, voter, community volunteer, health care professional, public health professional or elected official can contribute to the advancement of health in our homes, our workplaces and/or our communities.

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The indicators of health are divided into 4 groups:
1. Behaviors include everyday activities that affect personal health. Behaviors include habits and practices we develop as individuals and families that influence our personal health and the use of health resources. Individuals can modify these behaviors with support of community, policy, and clinical interventions.
2. Community and Environment influences quality of life and life royal_servicesexpectancy. Healthy and safe communities include those with clean water and air, affordable and secure housing, sustainable and economically vital neighborhoods, and support structures such as violence-free places to be physically active.
3. Policy influences availability of resources to encourage and maintain health. Policy also influences the extent that public and health programs penetrate the general population. Policies can have a wide reach throughout a state, and they promote healthy living and judicious consumption of health care resources.
4. Clinical care reflects the access, quality, appropriateness, and cost of care we receive at doctors’ offices, clinics, and hospitals.
Health determinants are intertwined and must work together to be optimally effective. America’s Health Rankings® combines individual measures of each of these determinants with the resultant health outcomes to produce one comprehensive view of the overall health of each nicholas-schrock-allstatestate, utilizing a unique methodology that balances the contributions of various factors to state health such as smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, binge drinking, high school graduation rates, children in poverty, access to care, and incidence of preventable disease.
The 2014 report has just been released and Michigan comes in with a ranking of 34th. [Interestingly, this rank is very similar to the rank of 32nd that Michigan achieved in the 2014 Kids Count Index from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. (I will have a blog on that index within the week)] As you can see by the chart below, which captures Michigan’s rank over the 25-year history of the index, we are only one position below our worst ranking of 35th which we received in 1990 and 2004. Our highest ranking recently was 28th in 2010. This tied for the highest ranking ever received – 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001. Since 2011, however, we have been no higher than 33rd.

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Since the Index is comprised of 27 individual measures, each with its own weighting, let’s look at where we are doing well and where we need improvement.

Strengths:
Low incidence of infectious disease (15th)
Ready availability of dentists (18th)
High immunization coverage among teens (18th)seed029_keyser_family
High level of health insurance coverage (18th)

Challenges:
High prevalence of obesity (40th)
High prevalence of binge drinking (40th)
Preventable hospitalizations (38th)
Public Health Funding (40th)
Violent Crime (42nd)
Smoking (37th)

 

While Michigan has experienced improvements in smoking, violent crime and preventable ferncareADhospitalization rates in recent years, we still remain well above the national average. Obesity rates continue to rise and result in high rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while negative personal behaviors related to smoking, drinking and drug use remain too high. While individual responsibility is called for, I am concerned about our low ranking on public Health Funding. Many residents in our state have suffered tremendously this decade, as measured by increasing poverty and food stamp rates. The combination of the Affordable Health Care Act and Michigan’s Medicaid Expansion will bring primary care to many previously without. However Michigan’s level of public health funding must be scrutinized and brought up to a level well above its abysmal rank of 40th.

As with any statewide index, there remain wide variations across counties and across communities. It behooves us all to take a look at this study and begin to think how we can make a difference in our lives, our children’s’ lives and our neighbors’ lives. Healthy Communities will help to drive a Healthier State of Michigan.

This guest blog was previously published at Detroit Data Guru Blog at https://dataguru1947.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/michigans-health-does-not-measure-up/  and has been republished with permission.

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