America’s Health Rankings released their annual report this month, and Colorado fell from 8th place in 2009 to 13th place in 2010. Overall, Colorado does quite well in terms of current health outcomes, but we fall short in terms of some factors that could lead to lower health outcomes over time (insurance coverage, geographic disparity, and immunization rates).
The obesity rate in Colorado decreased from 19.1% last year, to 18.9% this year, and we kept our position as the least-obese state in the US. Colorado is also one of the healthiest states in terms of chronic diseases among adults. Stroke and diabetes are less prevalent here than anywhere else in the country. We’re also ranked number 2 for high blood pressure, 3 for cardiac disease, and 4 for heart attacks.
Despite our high rankings in terms of health outcomes, the state still slipped 5 spots this year, and may face more challenges in the years ahead. One of the most significant areas where Colorado falls far short (ranked number 43) is in geographic disparity of health outcomes – basically, people in certain areas of the state are more likely to be unhealthy than those in other areas. And although the percentage of uninsured Colorado residents decreased from 16.1 to 15.6, we’re still ranked number 33 in the nation in terms of percentage of the population without health insurance (the top ranked state has only a 5% uninsured rate). In the immunization category, we dropped from number 13 last year to number 48 this year, with 85% of children 19 – 35 months being fully immunized (last year our rate was 92.1%). We also rank 38th in terms of early prenatal care (68.5% of pregnant Colorado women see a health care provider during their first trimester). Our low rankings in those four areas were the significant factors that countered our high rankings in terms of health outcomes, and resulted in an overall ranking of 13.
In reality, health outcomes is what really matters, so it will be interesting to see if Colorado’s lower scores on the predictive measures (things like rates of uninsured residents, immunizations, prenatal care, and geographic disparity) translate to lower health outcomes as time goes by.