During the past 22 years ending in 2011, there was a 21.2% improvement in overall health in the United States. The most improvements were seen in the reduction of infant mortality, infectious disease, prevalence of smoking, cardiovascular deaths, and violent crime. Despite these improvements, the United States has experienced the rapid increase in the prevalences of obesity and diabetes and the persistently high rate of uninsured population as well as a dramatic increase in the percentage of children in poverty during the last five years. Furthermore, the annual improvement in health in the United States has decreased during the last decade when compared to the 1990s (0.5% per year compared to 1.6% per year in the 1990s).
There is hope of improving the annual improvement in health in the United States by reducing significant risk factors: while the prevalence of smoking was stagnant for many years, it is now improving (declining from 23.2% in 2003 to 17.3% in 2011, which was the lowest level in 22 years). Potentially preventable hospitalizations have declined during the last ten years from 82.5 to 68.2 admissions per 1,000 Medicare enrollees (in 2006, 4.4 million admissions to hospitals in the United States involved treatment for one or more potentially preventable conditions that resulted in costs of more than $30.8 billion). The savings would be significant if hospitalizations could be reduced – assuming an average cost of $5,300 per admission, a 5% decrease in the rate of potentially avoidable hospitalizations could result in a cost savings of more than $1.3 billion.
U.S. Obesity Statistics
The prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased 137% from 1990 to 2011 with no evidence that the rate is slowing or abating (obesity increased from 11.6% of the U.S. population in 1990 to 27.5% of the population in 2011). The rate of obesity in the United States could be as much as 10% higher than stated because the rates are based on people self-reporting their height and weight. Obesity is known to contribute to many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and general poor health.
Lack Of Health Insurance In The U.S.
Lack of health insurance prevents people from getting the proper care when needed and also reduces access to necessary medical care. Lack of health insurance coverage increased from 13.9% of the U.S. population in 2001 to 16.2% of the population in 2011. The of lack of health insurance in Massachusetts is relatively low at 5.0% of the population, which is substantially better than all other states and less than one third of the U.S. average. Texas, on the other hand, has a rate five times that of Massachusetts.
Other U.S. Health Risk Factors
High school graduation rates, rates of binge drinking, poor mental health days, and poor physical health days have shown minimal improvement during the past ten years and negatively affect more significant improvements in general population health.
The poor economy in the United States since at least 2008 may account for some of the deteriorating health tends in the United States during the past ten years but by no means will some of the more disturbing health trends improve along with the improving U.S. economy. More has to be done to keep us healthy, make us healthier, and to help us help ourselves to contain or reduce health care costs in the United States.
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