The United Health Foundation's 2017 annual report paints a picture of the American health landscape as one of great disparity. While wellness is trending upward overall, especially along the coasts, upticks in premature deaths (+3%), drug deaths (+7%), and cardiovascular health (+2%) point to our nation's struggle to provide a consistent standard of care.
Analyzing states based on their rates of obesity, infectious disease, physical activity, smoking cessation, infant morality, and air pollution, as well as on the available on health care providers such as doctors, therapists, and dentists, the foundation ranked the health of each state.
In the lead is Massachusetts, which received the highest ranking thanks to a low rate of obesity, a sizable presence of mental health care providers, and the lowest percentage of uninsured citizens of any state, at 2.7%. Other highly ranked states are Hawaii, Vermont, Utah and Connecticut.
On the less fortunate end of the spectrum, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi ranked as the least healthful with relatively high rates of infectious diseases, smoking, obesity, and poor air quality.
The report compared the U.S. life expectancy with that of 35 other countries. Despite spending more on health care per capita, the U.S. ranked 27th against comparable nations.
While the statistics are new, the troubling state of health care in the U.S. is not news to us. The shortcomings and inequities of our healthcare system—especially when it comes to preventative care and the amount of time doctors are allotted for each patient—are painfully evident in analysis. And while functional and integrative doctors are trying to supplement, and supplant, our broken health care system, promoting preventive medicine, stress reduction, and nutrition and movement education, at the moment, these services are cost prohibitive to many. Increasing access to health and wellness remains a cause in need of championing.