The 2009 Colorado Health Report Card was just released, and the score for healthy children slipped from a C- in 2008 to a D+ in 2009. I find it particularly interesting that our state ranks at the very top of the list in terms of the percentage of adults who are obese (we’re the only state in the nation with less than a 20% adult obesity rate) and yet our kids aren’t even close to the top of the list, with 22 states having lower childhood obesity rates.
In an interesting paradox, the people in Colorado are pretty healthy, despite having poor levels of health insurance coverage. Our percentage of adults with health insurance is lower than 31 other states, and for kids, we’re nearly at the bottom of the pile, ranking 45th. But our adults are a pretty healthy group (lowest incidence of obesity, and rates of diabetes and high blood pressure that put us in the top five states in the country). Unfortunately this uninsured-but-healthy status doesn’t seem to be working for our kids.
One thing that I noticed about the report card is that it addresses some specific health issues for adults (mental health, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity) but for children this aspect of the report is limited to obesity. The rest of the children’s health report includes things that have an impact on health, but don’t necessarily correlate exactly with how healthy a person is (for example, it’s possible for a child to be perfectly healthy despite living in poverty or not having a primary care physician). I would like to see future editions of the report include statistics on the incidence of illnesses like cancer and asthma in children. I’m curious as to whether our high percentage of uninsured children (relative to other states) is correlated with the actual health status of our kids.
For now, it looks like we have a lot of work to do in terms of getting Colorado’s children (and adults) covered by health insurance. Even if it’s possible for a person to be healthy despite being uninsured, it’s a precarious position (both financially and health-wise) to be in, and not one that most people are in by choice.