America is getting healthier. So even a state that works hard at early detection of cancer or increasing its public health budget may find it difficult to move up in the rankings published each year by UnitedHealth Group, which in 1999 took over the project form ReliaStar Financial Services. Over the past decade, health has improved in virtually all of the country, UnitedHealth analysts note, with a falloff in the number of smokers and a 40 percent decrease in auto accident deaths the biggest contributors. The rankings combine medical measures, such as rates of infant mortality and heart disease, with underlying social behaviors that affect health, such as the level of uninsurance in a state and the rate of high school graduation.
Source: UnitedHealth Group
State Health Ranking2000
|Change in score (percentage points)||Reason||Rank|
|Arkansas||+5.5||Unemployment, violent crime on-the-job deaths down||46||50|
|Hawaii||+4.2||Violent crime and motor vehicle deaths down, prenatal care up||5||11|
|Delaware||+3.1||On-the-job and motor vehicle deaths down, high school graduation rate up||35||39|
|Montana||+2.7||Prevalence of smoking and motor vehicle deaths down||27||30|
|South Dakota||+2.4||Prevalence of smoking and on-the-job injuries down||19||24|
|Indiana||-2.9||Percentage of uninsured and on-the-job injuries and deaths up||26||20|
|Wisconsin||-2.6||Percentage of uninsured and level of infectious disease up||8||4|
|Illinois||-2.5||Prevalence of smoking, percentage of uninsured and on-the-job injuries up||29||26|
|Wyoming||-2.4||Prevalence of smoking, motor vehicle deaths, mortality rate up||31||29|
|Ohio||-1.7||Prevalence of smoking and risk of heart disease (obesity, hypertension sedentary lifestyle) up, support for public health down||23||22|
Daniel Moskowitz. Tough competition for healthy state honors. Business and Health 2001;1:16.