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Healthcare

Studies: Texas Still Has Much Work To Do To Boost Health, Access

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Studies released this week by a major insurance company and a nonprofit signal that Texas has a long road ahead in order to improve overall health and access to care.

One study came from the nonprofit Commonwealth Foundation. The other is major insurer UnitedHealthcare’s annual research paper known as America’s Health Ratings. The latter found that obesity here is up by a whole percentage point, declaring at 31.9 percent of Texans have a body mass index of 30 or higher. Eleven percent of residents here say they are diabetic, while 27.6 percent say they didn’t exercise beyond their day jobs in the past month. That makes Texas the 40th most obese state and the 43rd least active.

Texas did well on smoking cessation, ranking fifth with 14.5 percent of adults saying they were active smokers. It was right in the middle of the pack for excessive drinking—17.4 percent, compared to the national average of 17.6 percent. Overall, Texas is the 34th healthiest state. The report expresses concern that the prevalence of preventable diseases will only continue to fuel excess spending and the strain already placed on public programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

For access, the Commonwealth Fund says we improved year-over-year but are still ranked 40th out of all other states on the scorecard. Seventeen percent of us have high out-of-pocket medical spending, compared with 15 percent nationally. Eighteen percent of us went without care because of costs, compared to 14 percent nationally. And 26 percent of Texan adults live without insurance, compared to 16 percent nationally.

The metrics, though mostly worse than the national average, are an improvement over 2013. Texas was ranked 44th, and had poorer showings for out-of-pocket costs, those who went without healthcare, the uninsured rate, and the pediatric uninsured rate.

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