The United Health Foundation’s annual report, offering a comprehensive ranking of each state’s place in the national hierarchy, has been released for 2015. Coming in at number 30, Arizona has dropped one spot from last year’s ranking. What are the state’s health strengths, and where could it use some work?
The topic of healthcare has been hotly debated at a national level, especially as its costs continue to balloon — this year, the U.S. spent more than almost any other country on health expenditures, according to the United Health Foundation, a number that is anticipated to grow in the coming years, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But that funding hasn’t translated to better results at the state level, as many have struggled to cover their local healthcare needs.
Arizona, in particular, still suffers from low per-capita public health funding, even as it has made progress in other important areas. While the nation’s uninsured population dropped this year — totaling less than 10% for the first time ever, as reported by the CDC and Census Bureau’s National Health Interview Survey — as many as 13% of Arizona residents remain uninsured and in need of affordable care options.
Coverage in the Southwest
It wasn’t all bad for Arizona in 2015. The state has seen a 16% decrease in physical inactivity in the past year and boasts low rates of cardiovascular and cancer deaths compared to many other U.S. states. Additionally, Arizona has seen an enormous improvement in the rate of preventable hospitalizations, down 22% from just two years ago.
While these statistics represent definitive improvements in public health, the ranking report makes it clear that the state faces an uphill battle, especially in regard to the health of its younger residents. Arizona’s high school graduation rates are poor, and the state has a high rate of children living in poverty, which can be an indicator of lifelong health issues, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the Phoenix Business Journal, Arizona ranks 46th in the U.S. in terms of childhood poverty and well-being, with 26% of children living below the poverty line (compared to the 22% national average).
Combined with the low rate of per capita public health funding and a high percentage of uninsured individuals, the state of its citizens’ health will be a major challenge for Arizona in coming years. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), “In 2011, over 18% of Arizonans indicated they could not afford needed health care.” The ADHS also points out that those without insurance are less likely to pursue preventative services. The lack of preventative carecan lead to greater health issues down the line.
These trends point to clear areas for improving affordable healthcare for specific segments of the Arizona population — the uninsured, underinsured, and youth populations should be a priority for Arizona, as regular care will be crucial for the continued reduction of preventable hospitalizations.
How SingleCare Can Help
Many of the health issues facing Arizona could be addressed with easier and more affordable access to preventive and primary medical care. New alternatives to traditional insurance such as SingleCare give members price-transparent access to a network of health care providers, including pediatricians, resulting in average medical savings of 48%.
The national healthcare conversation is far from over, but most would agree that getting healthcare should be affordable. Arizona’s progress in the past year has been stymied in areas that can and should be improved, and the state is certainly capable of making the necessary changes. And SingleCare is there to help.
(Main image credit: psphotograph/Thinkstock)