Heightened drug death rates fail to affect PA. health rankings

Ioannis Pashakis//December 6, 2019

Heightened drug death rates fail to affect PA. health rankings

Ioannis Pashakis//December 6, 2019

Despite an increasing drug death rate and high levels of air pollution, Pennsylvania  kept the same ranking for the third year in a row in United Health Foundation’s 2019 America Health Rankings.

The state ranked No. 28  in the annual rankings, which compare categories like behaviors, community, policy, clinical care and health outcomes with all 50 states.

The rankings were released by the Minnesota-based nonprofit on Thursday and highlighted similar strengths and challenges from last year’s report. The data from the report is sourced from organizations including the CDC, EPA and FBI.

Individual categories each receive their own ranking and are also compared with other states.

Pennsylvania was ranked 47 in drug deaths, ahead of New Hampshire, Ohio and West Virginia. Over 2019, the state’s drug death rate grew by 25% from 28.1 for every 100,000 people to 35.1 for every 100,000.

The state also proved to have a higher rate of mental distress among adults, with 14.4% of Pennsylvanian’s reporting that their mental health had not been good for 14 or more days in the past month.

The state’s mental health providers have responded to that growth, and in the last two years the number of mental health providers in the state increased from 182 to 206.2 per 100,000 people.

The ranking showed Pennsylvania is leading the pack when it comes to its number of primary care physicians, high immunization rates among adolescents and low percentage of uninsured residents.

Only 5% of the state’s population is uninsured, making it the ninth most insured state in the country. The state is the fifth highest in primary care physicians per 100,000 people, with 216 over last year’s 208.7.

This year marked the 30th year the foundation, a nonprofit established by national insurance agency UnitedHealthcare, published the rankings.

In that time, the foundation reported infant mortality has decreased by 43% and smoking among adults decreased by 25% since 1990.

Obesity has increased by 166% over the last 30 years, growing from 11.6% of Americans having a body mass index of 30 or higher to 30.9%. Pennsylvania ranks No. 25 in obesity with the same value as the country.

The United Health Foundation releases several different rankings throughout the year, including the Health of Women and Children Report and the Senior Report.