A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund found that where you live within the United States actually plays a bigger role in your overall health care than your income. High-income people who live in states with poor healthcare are worse off than low-income people in states with good healthcare.
To determine each state’s health score, investigators looked at factors ranging from how many people in a state had health insurance and whether they had enough coverage, as well as how many people used the emergency room for care rather than a doctor’s office and how well a state’s health care system protected its citizens from dangerous medications.
The reason for the income-location discrepancy has to do with access and affordability, prevention and treatment, avoidable hospital use and living healthy lives. In areas where there is less access to healthcare, it doesn’t matter what your income is; there is still less access. With less access, prevention and treatment rates go down and avoidable hospital use goes up.
The good news is that California scored relatively high on the health score spectrum compared with other states. Generally, northern and western states performed well, while states in the south, southeast and southwest maintained health care access “similar to developing countries in Southeast Asia.” Across the board, scoring high in one factor did not seem to affect the scores in other factors. For example, Colorado performed in the top quartile for avoiding the hospital and healthy lives, but in the lowest 25% for access and affordability.
Poor scores on any of the scoring factors can be a real danger to the people. Many people are going without screenings and vaccinations, and in eight states, at least 40% of Medicare beneficiaries were prescribed medications considered dangerous for seniors. “We see potential for real gains if we aim high,” said Cathy Schoen, senior vice president of The Commonwealth Fund. “This is putting everyone at risk, not just the low-income population.”
The best thing you can do, regardless of your income or location, is to make your healthcare a priority. Living a healthy lifestyle and getting proper preventative care is critical to your long term health, and preventative care at a doctor’s office is far less expensive than costly hospital visits. Educating yourself about your options and the appropriate time to visit a doctor can go a long way in ensuring that you and your family get the best health care possible.
For more information about health care, feel free to contact us at Mertens Insurance or 1-888-503-7180. You can also come into one of our three locations in Lincoln, CA, Grass Valley, CA or Yuma, AZ. Follow us on Google+!