Is Connecticut Really the 6th Healthiest State?

By Stephanye R. Clarke

Connecticut is among the top 10 healthiest states and is down two spots from last year.

According to a recent report by the United Health Foundation, Connecticut is the sixth healthiest state in the country.

No, you’re not in a time warp—I wrote a similar blog just over a year ago— in all honesty, I remain unimpressed, yet hopeful.

An excerpt from a recent article about the state’s latest ranking reads:

“Connecticut’s leadership on healthcare has helped us build healthier, more productive communities,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. “More than 700,000 residents now have healthcare through Access Health CT—expanded access to preventative care, treatment for chronic conditions, and better connections to mental health care. Our work on opioid abuse prevention and our investments in school healthcare systems and anti-violence initiatives are also important parts of building strong, healthy communities. We have more to do, but the health of our residents is a top priority.”

More to do indeed!

A recent study conducted by Connecticut-Health I-Team shared similarities with Access Health CT’s own survey, which found that “36 percent of exchange customers had not used their insurance coverage in 2015, up from 26 percent in 2014, and that 28 percent lacked a primary care physician.”

Our sixth place ranking is admirable, but we cannot be complacent—considering challenges and disparities are also listed in the report, including excessive drinking, hypertension, drug deaths, number of poor mental health days, low per capita public health spending and more.

The low per capita spending on public health caught me off-guard and frightens me. The Department of Public Health is a lead partner in advancing health equity and promoting optimal health for all Connecticut residents. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act is not the way to better health—it is one of several puzzle pieces needed to achieve better health outcomes. How can public health be a fully functioning, effective contributor to improved health while suffering a steadily decreasing investment?

I’ve been Debbie Downer in this blog so far, but there is hope!

According to the article, the CT DPH’s health improvement plan has a particular focus:

“Health equity, defined as the attainment of the highest level of health for all people, is a central tenet of the plan. During its development, there was a specific focus on disadvantaged and vulnerable populations in an effort to work toward achieving health equity and eliminating health disparities.

It is an honor to be in the Top 10 Healthiest States, and if we are to get to and stay at number 1, like Lt. Governor Wyman said, “…we have more to do.”

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