The United Health Foundation, a non-profit linked to UnitedHealth Group, offered its first report card Wednesday on the health status of the nation's senior citizens. The study ranked states based on 34 indicators grouped into “determinants” like smoking and obesity and “outcomes” like ICU usage and hip fractures.
Digging into those state rankings on seniors' health
The USA Today map of the state rankings offered few surprises. The upper Midwest states like Minnesota and Iowa, New England states like New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, and Mountain states like Colorado and Utah rose to the top while poorer states across the deep South and Oklahoma and Nevada clustered near the bottom.
But then the study compilers got creative. By comparing each state's overall determinants score to its overall outcomes score, they offered some predictions about how the health status of seniors will be changing in each state. If the ratio was positive, it is likely future seniors will be healthier than the current crop, and vice versa.
Viewed from that vantage point, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Iowa showed a strong likelihood of improving senior health status over time, while Louisiana, Alaska and Oklahoma will probably decline compared to other states. For policymakers and health system planners thinking about how to deploy prevention resources (anti-smoking, anti-obesity program funding, for instance), the latter rankings are probably a better roadmap for making decisions.
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