The District of Columbia faces several pressing issues concerning community health.
According to some indicators, DC’s population is getting healthier — the average life expectancy in DC grew from 67.5 in the early 90s to 77.5 in 2010. Even so, there are broad areas for improvement and reassessment. The Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), commissioned by the District of Columbia Department of Health, outlines several areas where community healthcare and the ease of public access needs to improve.
In general, DC’s population is reasonably well-covered. 90.2% of residents between the ages of 18 and 64 have access to health care of some kind. For reference, Texas’ population is the least covered in the U.S. (77.9%), while Massachusetts enjoys the widest coverage (93%).
However, a mere 25% of Washingtonians rate themselves as being in “excellent health,” according to 2012’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS). While a good portion of the District’s residents have healthcare coverage, it’s not clear that the treatment they’re getting is of a high enough quality — especially when they need it most.
DC’s emergency rooms saw an enormous 20% increase in visits over the last five years. The CHNA report states that the increase is “evident in the overall increase in ambulatory surgeries and the decrease in inpatient days of care [that] hospitals continue to provide more and more care on an outpatient basis.” One possible reason for the surge in emergency room care? Patients who are at risk of developing serious conditions aren’t getting enough medical attention or screened for the warning signs, forcing them to emergency care when the situation gets dire.
Pediatric and General Health
So, what are some of the major health concerns in DC? Asthma is a major concern for DC children — 18% of residents under 17 have some form of the respiratory disorder, compared to the national rate of 8.4%. Between 2008 and 2010, 20% of asthma-related emergency room visits were from children younger than five years old, the highest of any age group. Asthma is also a major driver of school absenteeism throughout the U.S., the reported cause of 14 million school absences in 2008, according to the CDC.
Another scourge affecting DC’s health is HIV: 1% of youth and 3% of the total DC population are HIV positive. According to the report, the District has a “severe and generalized epidemic.” The black community is disproportionately affected with 4.3% of the community having contracted the virus.
Health Care Options
Many of DC’s current healthcare problems could be easily avoided with regular checkups, screening procedures, and improved overall care. Though the majority of residents have some form of coverage, many of them are underinsured and left unprepared to pay out-of-pocket for treatment that is often prohibitively expensive.
With SingleCare, residents can find effective treatment at prices they can afford. Through an extensive network of DC healthcare providers, members can find any variety of non-emergency services at reduced prices, regardless of whether or not they have insurance. SingleCare is committed to making healthcare affordable for everyone. With an average saving of 48%, SincleCare provides DC-area residents the option to stay healthy in the long term, without breaking the bank.
(Main image credit: Zach Stern/flickr)