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Massachusetts Health Rankings -- We're #5

Posted by John McDonough  December 6, 2011 10:30 PM

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Each year, the United Health Foundation produces America's Health Rankings, gauging how well each state is doing on a variety of health care and health status measures.  It's a good set of snapshots on how each state is doing.  Last year, Massachusetts ranked #2 overall, and this year we're at #5.  Here's where the Commonwealth ranks the best (lower numbers are better):

Lack of health insurance, #1

Occupational fatalities, #1

Primary care physicians (per 100,000), #1

Premature deaths, #1

Infant mortality, #4

Early prenatal care, #5

Children's immunization coverage, #5

Public health funding, #5

Adult smoking, #5

And where do we not perform so well?

Infectious disease cases, #42

Adult binge drinking, #40

Violent crime, #38

Preventable hospitalizations among Medicare enrollees, #37

Cancer deaths, #29

In some cases, the news is decidedly mixed.  Regarding obesity, for example, we're #7 which sounds good, but the report also notes that the raw number of obese adults in Massachusetts rose from 815,000 in 2001 to 1,215,000 in 2011.  Not so good just because 42 others states are worse than we are.  Similarly, Massachusetts' rank for adults with diabetes is #12, not so bad, but the number of adults with diabetes rose from 281,000 to 390,000 over the past ten year.  Yikes. 

On smoking, the news is an unmixed blessing -- 965,000 smokers in 2001 and 723,000 in 2011.  Yes, still too many, but going in the right direction.  Let's raise those cigarette taxes again!

As former CMS Administrator Dr. Don Berwick taught me back in the early 1990s, "every defect is a treasure" ... because it points the way toward improvement.  We've got a lot to feel good about regarding health care in Massachusetts, and we still have lots of room for major improvements. 
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

John E. McDonough is a professor of practice at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the author of the book “Inside National Health Reform”, published in 2011 by More »


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