According to a report released Wednesday by the Commonwealth Fund, suicide, drug overdose and alcohol mortality rates have reached an all-time high in the United States. However, some states are much harder hit than others.
The report looked at data in all 50 states and in Washington, DC, and looked in detail at 47 factors that affect health outcomes, including insurance coverage, access to physicians, obesity, smoking, and even tooth loss, and ultimately categorized them to Enter a score. The data are from 2017.
Although rates of so-called desperate deaths have increased at the national level, investigators of the report have been particularly affected by regional differences in rates.
"If we look at what's going on in the middle ̵
West Virginia had the highest death rates from overdoses mainly caused by the opioid epidemic. In addition, these rates rose 450 percent between 2005 and 2017, according to the report. "The growth rate of overdose deaths in West Virginia is absolutely stunning," Radley told NBC News.
It's not just a prescription painkiller and heroin that drive these death rates. The authors of the study also point to fentanyl and other potent synthetic opioids that creep into illegal drugs such as cocaine. Fentanyl is morphine-like but 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
According to West Virginia, the states of Columbia, Kentucky, Delaware, and New Hampshire had the second highest mortality rate for overdose land, according to the report.
Mortality rates from suicide and alcohol also showed regional differences. In Montana, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Oregon and Wyoming, people died more often from suicide or alcohol than from drugs.
How the States Stack Up
Apart from these mortality rates, the report also examined 44 other factors that determine the health of the population to rank each state.
Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, Connecticut and Vermont achieved the highest rankings (Connecticut and Vermont fifth in the ranking), while Arkansas, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi were the lowest rankings.
What separates the top-ranked states from the lowest? Healthcare reporting.
"We truly believe that access to healthcare is the foundation of a powerful healthcare system," said Radley.
The states ranked at the bottom of the list all had the highest rates of residents without health insurance coverage.
"Without the opportunity to see a doctor if you need it, you're much more likely to get sick in a way that will take you to hospital with a manageable condition like diabetes," Radley added.
In 2017, five of the 17 states that did not expand access to Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act had the highest rates of uninsured adults.
"States' decisions to expand their Medicaid programs have had a major impact on their uninsured rates," the authors write in their report.
Massachusetts, which expanded access to Medicaid and also offered other health-care compensation, posted the lowest rate of uninsured adults in 2017 at 4 percent. Texas, which refused to expand access to Medicaid, posted the highest rate at 24 percent.
However, rising costs also affect people who have health insurance, the report says.
"Health care costs are rising" Higher premiums are being passed on to employees, "said Radley.
He pointed out that, for example, families working in Louisiana spend an average of 10 percent of their income on healthcare premiums Money spent on expenses such as prescriptions and back payments.
Other southern states followed similar trends, with average health insurance contributions from employees in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and Delaware At least 8 percent of income.
The authors of the report suggested this extension of access to Medicaid has had a positive effect even in the state that leads the nation with the highest overdose mortality rate: West Virginia access to Medicaid in Yes 2014, paving the way for improved access to the treatment of drug abuse.
In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University found that treatment rates for opioid abuse increased in West-Virginians, who came under the ACA for Medicaid in question. By 2016, three quarters of people with opioid dependence were prescribed a drug to treat their dependency. That's less than a third, just before West Virginia expanded Medicaid.
For specific state information, see the Commonwealth Fund interactive tool.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, send a text to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources to get more resources.
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