By Natasha Robinson, MPCA Communications Specialist
Several Michigan counties with Health Centers rank in the top 20 of providing access to care for communities according to the 2013 County Health Rankings & Roadmap data released today.
Washtenaw, Oakland, Grand Traverse, Marquette, Charlevoix, Midland, Livingston, Dickinson, Ingham, Genesee, Emmet, Kalamazoo, Eaton, Clinton, Kent, Ottawa, Wexford, Saginaw, Monroe, and Macomb counties, respectively, rank as the top 20 counties with access to primary care providers.
According to County Health Rankings, access to care requires not only financial coverage, but also access to providers. The rank takes into account the ratio of the number of primary care physicians to the number of people in the county.
“While high rates of specialist physicians have been shown to be associated with higher, and perhaps unnecessary utilization, sufficient availability of primary care physicians is essential for preventive and primary care, and when needed, referrals to appropriate specialty care,” the County Health Ranking says.
Still, there is work to do to improve the health of Michigan residents in all counties as the state’s national rank has declined in the past few years.
“The overall health of Michigan residents, in comparison to other states, may be assessed using America’s Health Rankings. According to America’s Health Rankings, Michigan ranked 28th in 2010, 33rd in 2011, and 37th in 2012,” said Amber Myers, health planning and data analyst, Michigan Department of Community Health. “On the county level, Michigan counties are using the County Health Rankings to see where they can improve and are actively working on improving health factors and outcomes.”
Leelanau, Ottawa, Clinton, Livingston, and Washtenaw counties, respectively, ranked as the top five for overall health outcomes in Michigan. Health outcomes take into account mortality and morbidity.
Washtenaw, Ottawa, Livingston, Clinton, and LeeLanau counties, respectively, ranked as the top five for overall health factors outcomes in Michigan. Health factors take into account health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.
Nationally, the County Health Ranking shows child poverty rates have not improved since 2000, with more than one in five children living in poverty; violent crime has decreased by almost 50 percent over the past two decades; the counties where people don’t live as long and don’t feel as well have the highest rates of smoking, teen births, and physical inactivity, as well as more preventable hospital stays; and teen birth rates are more than twice as high in the least healthy counties than in the healthiest counties.
The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The County Health Rankings show the rank of the health of nearly every county in the nation and illustrate that much of what affects health occurs outside of the doctor’s office.
Many counties have used the data to improve health in their communities, and the RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize awards $25,000 annually to up to six communities helping people live healthier lives. Applications are being accepted for the 2013-2014 contest.