U.S. Health Improves Overall, with New Hampshire in the Lead
New Hampshire, which has the best prenatal care, support for public health care, infant mortality rate and violent crime rate, is the "healthiest state in the nation," according to an annual survey by the Minneapolis-based UnitedHealth Group, released today. USA Today reports that joining New Hampshire at the top of the list are Minnesota and Utah. Mississippi, Louisiana and South Carolina share the list's lower rungs. Arkansas, Hawaii, Delaware, Montana, South Dakota and Utah made the greatest improvement since last year. The study considers health care access, prevalence of heart disease and smoking, motor vehicle deaths and crime rates. The study found America's "overall health" had improved 2.6% since last year's survey, and 17.6% since 1990. In addition, the survey found smoking has decreased 6.8% in the last 10 years. The American Public Health Association will present the results at its annual meeting today in Boston. Executive Director Mohammad Akhter said the report "provides benchmarks for ... states to compare themselves with each other." He added, "This can be a very powerful incentive when legislators look at the report and realize their state is lagging behind." Mississippi's Ed Thompson, health officer for his state's health department, said, "This report ranks, more than anything else, the economic status of the state. It automatically ensures the states with the lowest per capita income are going to be the lowest ranked" (Gottfried, USA Today, 11/14). To view the report in full, visit http:// www.unitedhealthgroup.com/sr2000/index.html.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.