OC Ranks So-So in Health Report

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What is the state of Orange County’s health? Just so-so, according to a new report that ranks the performance of health care systems in communities around the nation.

The report, released by the health foundation Commonwealth Fund, analyzes health care according to 43 criteria, which include access, prevention and treatment, potentially avoidable hospital use and cost, and healthy lives.

Orange County placed 142nd among 306 communities across the country in the report, which is titled: Rising to the Challenge: Results from a Scorecard on Local Health System Performance, 2012.

The report shows dramatic variation in the number of uninsured adults in various regions of the country. For example, in areas of Massachusetts, which mandates that residents have health coverage, only 5 percent of adults are uninsured. In parts of Texas, meanwhile, 50 percent of adults are uninsured.

Orange County is in the middle with 24 percent of adults going without health insurance.

The situation is worse for children in the county. Ten percent of the county’s children are without insurance, which puts the county in the bottom quartile nationally, according to the study.

Orange County ranked higher in the category of healthful living, placing in the top quartile in preventable deaths, breast cancer and colorectal cancer deaths, infant mortality, low birth weight, obesity and loss of six or more teeth due to dental decay.

Generally, better scores on access to health care correlated to favorable ratings in prevention and treatment. Poor access was associated with more hospital admissions and higher costs.

“The authors conclude that the strong links across the health care system underscore the need for policymakers and community leaders to take a big-picture view in order to make improvements,” the report said.

— AMY DePAUL

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