R.I. falls three spots to No. 19 in national health ranking
RHODE ISLAND RANKED No. 19 in UnitedHealthcare's annual list of America’s healthiest states, slipping three spots from last year's rank. Health challenges facing Rhode Island include a high number of drug deaths and preventable hospitalizations, and a wider than average socioeconomic health disparity.
PROVIDENCE – In UnitedHealthcare’s annual list of America’s healthiest states, the America’s 2013 Health Rankings, Rhode Island slid three spots to No. 19 from No. 16 last year.
The study, released Wednesday, found that the Ocean State ranked in the top 10 on three of 30 measures, including No. 1 for its 82 percent rate of immunization coverage among adolescents; No. 3 for availability of primary-care physicians, which number 173.4 per 100,000 population in Rhode Island; and No. 10 for public-health funding at $114 per person.
In the past 10 years, the rate of cardiovascular death among Rhode Islanders declined 29 percent from 308.1 deaths per 100,000 people to 238.6 deaths, putting the state at No. 22 for cardiovascular death rate.
However, Rhode Island ranked poorly on measures such as drug deaths (No. 42), preventable hospitalizations (No. 37) and socioeconomic health disparity (No. 36). Of Rhode Islanders with at least a high school education, 57.7 percent report good health, while only 26.2 percent of those with less than a high school education report good health.
In addition, the percentage of children aged 18 years old and younger living in poverty in Rhode Island has increased from 11 percent in 2003 to 20.4 percent in 2013, ranking the state at No. 28 on this measure.
In general, Rhode Island ranked well in the study’s policy and clinical care measures – which include health insurance coverage, number of physicians and dentists, and immunization – and performed poorly in community and environment, and behavioral health measures, such as high school graduation rate and prevalence of binge drinking and smoking.
“The United Health Foundation’s annual America’s Health Rankings provides an invaluable look at the challenges and opportunities facing Rhode Island and how the picture of health in our state compares with those of our region and our nation,” said Dr. Neal Galinko, medical director for UnitedHealthcare of New England. “This report is an important tool for designing meaningful programs to address our biggest challenges and to help us measure the progress we’ve made in our efforts to date.”
Although Rhode Island’s original 2012 America’s Health Ranking was No. 10, UnitedHealthcare later adjusted the rankings and established the state’s final 2012 rank at No. 16.
Nationally, Hawaii claimed the title of “healthiest state,” followed by Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Mississippi ranked as the least healthy state, below Arkansas (No. 49), Louisiana (No. 48), Alabama (No. 47) and West Virginia (No. 46).
America’s Health Rankings, begun in 1990, is the longest-running comparative health index of states. The rankings are sponsored by the United Health Foundation and conducted in partnership with the American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention.