Tough competition for healthy state honors

News brief.


State Scan

Tough competition for healthy state honors

By Daniel B. Moskowitz, Contributing Editor

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.


The healthiest—and least healthy—places to live

New Hampshire23.0%
West Virginia14.2
South Carolina15.3

Source: UnitedHealth Group
State Health Ranking—2000


Getting better—and falling behind

Change in score (percentage points)ReasonRank
Arkansas+5.5Unemployment, violent crime on-the-job deaths down4650
Hawaii+4.2Violent crime and motor vehicle deaths down, prenatal care up511
Delaware+3.1On-the-job and motor vehicle deaths down, high school graduation rate up3539
Montana+2.7Prevalence of smoking and motor vehicle deaths down2730
South Dakota+2.4Prevalence of smoking and on-the-job injuries down1924
Indiana-2.9Percentage of uninsured and on-the-job injuries and deaths up2620
Wisconsin-2.6Percentage of uninsured and level of infectious disease up84
Illinois-2.5Prevalence of smoking, percentage of uninsured and on-the-job injuries up2926
Wyoming-2.4Prevalence of smoking, motor vehicle deaths, mortality rate up3129
Ohio-1.7Prevalence of smoking and risk of heart disease (obesity, hypertension sedentary lifestyle) up, support for public health down2322


Daniel Moskowitz. Tough competition for healthy state honors. Business and Health 2001;1:16.