LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -

Americans are living longer due to several medical advances, but unhealthy behavior and preventable illness threaten quality of life, according to United Health Foundation’s 2012 America’s Health Rankings® which rank Oregon No. 13 among the healthiest states.

While premature, cardiovascular and cancer deaths have declined since 1990 by 18.0 percent, 34.6 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively, Americans are experiencing troubling levels of obesity (27.8 percent of the adult population), diabetes (9.5 percent of the adult population), high blood pressure (30.8 percent of the adult population) and sedentary behavior (26.2 percent of the adult population).

UnitedHealthcare watches America’s Health Rankings closely to better understand the health of individuals and communities nationwide and in Oregon and has several programs in place designed to address these needs. Programs educate U.S. and Oregon citizens on how to live healthy lives and empower individuals to advocate for public health improvement.

“America’s Health Rankings from United Health Foundation is an incredibly valuable tool for us to clearly understand health trends facing us as a nation and here in Oregon,” said Dr. Robert Muller, medical director for UnitedHealthcare Northwest. “By identifying the key opportunities we face as a state we can pursue innovative solutions to those opportunities.”

Oregon’s Bill of Health

According to the 23rd Edition of America’s Health Rankings, Oregon is 13th this year compared to 8th in 2011 when compared with the health of other states. This year’s report finds that, similar to every other state, Oregon has its share of strengths and challenges.

Oregon’s Strengths

·         Low prevalence of sedentary lifestyle: While Oregon’s sedentary lifestyle rate is one of the lowest in the U.S., there are still almost 600,000 adults who are not regularly active.

·         Low rate of preventable hospitalizations: In the past ten years, the rate of preventable hospitalizations declined 20 percent from 53.6 to 42.9 discharges per 1,000 Medicare enrollee in the past five years.

·         Low infant mortality rate: Oregon has the second best infant mortality rate compared to the U.S. In the past 5 years, the infant mortality rate declined from 5.9 to 5.0 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Oregon’s Challenges

·         High rate of uninsured population: Oregon has a relatively high rate of people who lack health insurance compared to the rest of the U.S. However, the percent of uninsured in the state has declined from 16.8 percent last year to 14.9 percent this year.

·         Low immunization coverage: Oregon ranks 47th in the U.S. for immunization coverage, with 85.7 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months covered.

·         Low per capital public health funding: Oregon ranks 35th in the U.S., with $59 per person in public health funding.

 

UnitedHealthcare Programs Address Oregon Health Needs

UnitedHealthcare has several programs in place that seek to address the health concerns underscored in this year’s America’s Health Rankings.

·         Wellness incentives: UnitedHealthcare’s offers wellness benefits to both large and small employers in Oregon.  The programs encourage healthy behaviors and target specific health actions using customized information, financial incentives and ongoing support.

·         UnitedHealth HEORES Grants: The UnitedHealth HEROES program provides grants of up to $1,000 to youth-led programs in Oregon that promote activity among children. Awards are given to innovative programs that include a walking element and raise awareness about childhood obesity.

·         Support of community activities: UnitedHealthcare actively promotes and supports initiatives to raise awareness, educate, and improve the cardiovascular health of Oregonians.

 

Additionally, United Health Foundation is continuing to enhance its website, americashealthrankings.org, with a variety of tools to help individuals make healthy choices, including customizable reports, enhanced social media and other innovative online resources.

 

Public Health Worker Lillian Shirley advocates for healthy living in Oregon

In his opening commentary to this year’s America’s Health Rankings, Reed Tuckson, M.D., medical advisor, United Health Foundation, and executive vice president and chief of medical affairs, UnitedHealth Group, pays tribute to the 450,000 public health workers nationwide who are working on the front lines to promote health and prevent disease.