Wisconsin falls two spots in new state health rankings

Wisconsin has fallen two places in the latest state-by-state health care rankings from the United Health Foundation, which highlights rising levels of obesity and certain diseases.

The state was ranked 23rd in this year’s report. This marks one of the lowest rankings in the past three decades, which have seen a overall downward slide in the state’s health ranking from the foundation.

Although the report sheds light on some worrisome trends, it also shows Wisconsin’s strength in a number of health-related metrics.

Compared to most of the country, the state has lower levels of air pollution, residents are more physically active, smoking rates are down, and a relatively low percentage of its population is uninsured.

However, Wisconsin was ranked dead last this year for excessive drinking. The state also ranked 49th for levels of pertussis, or whooping cough, and was ranked 43rd for infectious diseases. That broader category includes pertussis as well as chlamydia and Salmonella.

In the past three years, cases of chlamydia increased 13 percent in Wisconsin, from about 412 cases to 466 cases per 100,000 population.

And over the past six years, obesity increased 16 percent in the state, from around 28 percent to 32 percent of adults.

While some of those health behaviors and environmental factors have been slipping, others have shown some improvement.

In the past three years, air pollution went down 25 percent. And just in the past year, HPV immunizations among males aged 13-17 increased 29 percent, going from about 39 percent to nearly 49 percent.

Wisconsin was ranked in the top half of states for most clinical care factors, such as number of dentists, low birthweight, preventable hospitalizations and access to primary care physicians. The only factor in clinical care ranked in the bottom half was the number of mental health care providers, with a ranking of 34th.

And in terms of concrete outcomes, Wisconsin ranked in the top half of states for all but one factor: disparity in health status. Other reports in the past have found major health disparities for minority populations in the state.

On the policy side, the state was ranked in the top half of states for things like adolescent immunizations, and the size of its uninsured population. But the state was one of the worst for public health funding, with a ranking of 47th.   

See the full report: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/  

–By Alex Moe