In an annual check up of our nation’s health, Wisconsin ranked 24 among all 50 states in 2015. Those findings come from United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® Annual Report, which has been measuring national and state health for just over a quarter of a century.
As a senior medical director with UnitedHealthcare, I always look forward to the America’s Health Rankings Annual Report because it offers an overview of where we stand in health both as a nation and relative to our peer states. The report provides a reflection of Wisconsin’s health that is at once sobering and encouraging. Over the last 26 years, Winconsin has experienced a significant decrease in overall health. Wisconsin was ranked seven in 1990.
Wisconsin’s strengths include a high rate of high school graduation, low percentage of uninsured and high immunization among adolescents for Tdap (combination vaccine that protects against three potentially life-threatening bacterial diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough).
Challenges in the state include a high prevalence of excessive drinking, low per capita public health funding and high prevalence of obesity.
Measuring and monitoring our nation’s health has never been more important, and the results of this year’s America’s Health Rankings Annual Report show how far we’ve come in the last 26 years – and how far we still have to go as a country.
This year’s data show that as a nation, Americans are smoking less and living less sedentary lifestyles; however, our country is facing complex health challenges that threaten Americans’ health and quality of life. Obesity and diabetes are at all-time highs, and rates of drug deaths – including illegal and prescription drug abuse – and children living in poverty are on the rise.
Understanding trends in health and wellness makes it clear where we need to focus our resources and attention. We look forward to using this year’s report to continue identifying best practices that address Wisconsin’s most pressing health challenges and encourage our residents to lead the healthiest lives possible.
When it comes to the future of Wisconsin’s health, and America’s health, we are all in it together. Let’s commit now to making the changes necessary to ensure that we build a healthier tomorrow, today.
As a community, we can start now!
Dr. Tony Sun
Interim Medical Director
UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin