Report shows Alaska’s health system performance continues to need improvement

The Commonwealth Fund recently released the 2018 Scorecard on State Health System Performance, which analyzed more than 40 measures of health care access, quality, efficiency, health outcomes and disparities.

Overall, Alaska ranks 34rd in the nation. Alaska also ranks below the national average in the five main categories, with the exception of Avoidable Hospital Use and Cost where Alaska is ranked 10th.

Baseline scores are based off data from 2012 and 2013, with a few outliers. The 2018 scores are based off data from 2015 and 2016, with a few outliers.

Alaska worsened the most in Disparity, and also saw worsened performance in Healthy Lives and Access & Affordability.

Alaska is ranked last in the nation for adults without a usual source of care. Alaska also ranks in the bottom five states for the uninsured rate, ranking 46th in the nation for uninsured adults and 48th for uninsured children.

The state saw an increase of deaths from suicide, alcohol, and drug use. In 2013, the rate was 51.4 deaths per 100,000. In 2016, the rate was 60.2 deaths per 100,000.

Alaska ranks the worst or near the worst in the nation for several disparity indicators. The Commonwealth Fund defined disparity as the difference between the state’s low-income (under 200% of federal poverty level) and higher-income populations (over 400% of the federal poverty level). Alaska ranks worst in the nation for adults who smoke and for potentially avoidable emergency department visits for Medicare dual eligible beneficiaries age 65 and older. The state also has low scores for uninsured children, adults and children without all recommended vaccines, and children without both a medical and dental preventive care visit in the past year.

However, Alaska does have high rankings and has seen significant improvement in some areas.

Alaska improved its score in 9 indicator areas, while only 6 areas worsened and 18 saw little or no change. Alaska improved its state rate in:

  • Adults ages 19–64 uninsured
  • Individuals with high out-of-pocket medical spending
  • Medicare beneficiaries received a high-risk drug
  • Children ages 19–35 months who did not receive all recommended vaccines
  • Home health patients who did not get better at walking or moving around
  • Adults with any mental illness reporting unmet need
  • Adults with any mental illness who did not receive treatment
  • Colorectal cancer deaths per 100,000 population
  • Adults who smoke

The state had its rate worsen for:

  • Hospital 30-day mortality
  • Total employer-sponsored insurance spending per enrollee
  • Total Medicare (Parts A & B) reimbursements per enrollee
  • Deaths from suicide, alcohol, and drug use per 100,000 population
  • Infant mortality, deaths per 1,000 births
  • Adults who are obese

The complete data set for Alaska can be viewed here and the entire report can be viewed here.