Alaska ranks 32nd in comprehensive national health rankings report
America’s Health Rankings recently released their 2018 Annual Report, breaking down the state of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis. The report evaluates health measurements that cover determinants of health such as behaviors, policy, community and environment, and clinical care, while also evaluating health outcomes to determine the overall rankings.
According to the newly released report, Alaska ranks 32 overall in the nation, falling three spots since last year’s 2017 report. For behavior, community/environment, and policy measurements, Alaska ranks poorly at 45th and 46th. Alaska’s high rates of excessive drinking, obesity, and infectious disease, along with its low rates of high school graduation and immunizations, all contribute to these low rankings.
Health trends detailed in the report also show challenges in Alaska: in the past five years, violent crime in Alaska increased by 37 percent; in the past 10 years drug deaths increased by 41 percent; and in the past two years, adults’ experience of “frequent physical distress” increased from 9.2 percent to 12.1 percent.
However, Alaska’s overall ranking is boosted by a high score for clinical care (2nd in the nation). In this category, Alaska’s number of dentists and mental health providers per 100,000 population, along with the rate of preventable hospitalizations, all rank in the top 10. Alaska also ranks first for the low prevalence of low birthweight births.
There were also recent health improvements in Alaska. Despite ranking 48th in the nation for the percentage of uninsured, during the last four years the percentage of uninsured Alaskans dropped from 19.5 percent to 13.9 percent, a 29 percent decrease. Also, since 2017 the rate of deaths by suicide decreased by 5 percent.
Alaska also ranked highly in terms of health outcomes, where low rates of diabetes, cardiovascular deaths, and health status disparity, rank the state at 12th overall.