Since 2006, the Colorado Health Foundation has been grading the state on a variety of health-related measures reported on the Colorado Health Report Card each year. The 2011 report card was just released this week. The overall rankings haven’t changed much over the past couple years. The 2009 report card looks very similar to the 2011 version. The Healthy Children score rose from a D+ two years ago to a C- now. But the Healthy Aging score slipped from a B+ on the 2009 report card to a B in 2011 (after improving to an A- in 2010). The other three categories were unchanged from their results two years ago.
One disappointing result on the most recent report card is the adult obesity rate. Colorado has long had the distinction of being the only state with an adult obesity rate lower than 20%. Colorado is still the least-obese state in the US, but 22% of our adult population is now classified as obese – this is not the direction we want to be heading, and it bodes poorly for our future healthcare spending. The Colorado Health Report Card notes that while Colorado is still the leanest state in the country, our obesity rates are climbing faster than the national average. And our childhood obesity ranking (14.2%) puts us right in the middle of the country, at 23rd out of 50.
One area of improvement was in the percentage of the adult population that is uninsured. In 2009, 19.9% of Colorado adults had no health insurance (32nd out of 50 states). By 2011, the percentage of uninsured adults had dropped to 18.3%, and our ranking has climbed to 24th out of 50. The improvement could be due to the expansion of Medicaid combined with the ACA provision that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance policy through age 26.
Colorado scored poorly on preventive dental care for children, ranking 38th overall. As with many health factors, this indicator was heavily tied to household income: Just over half of children living below poverty had received at least one dental exam in the past year, while 90% of children in families with incomes above 400% of the poverty level had received preventive dental care in the previous year.
Since the concept of a “medical home” has been discussed at length over the past few years as it relates to healthcare reform, I was curious to see how Colorado ranked on that metric. 78.4% of Colorado adults have someone they consider their primary care physician (28/50 when compared with other states). It’s likely that a large percentage of the uninsured population does not have a medical home. So in order to significantly increase the percentage of adults with a medical home, we’ll likely have to start by further decreasing the percentage of adults who are uninsured.
The 2011 Colorado Health Report Card contains all sorts of interesting data about the health of Colorado’s population and how we rank when compared with the rest of the country. There’s plenty of room for improvement, and the report card gives us some excellent data that we can use to measure our progress.