Once again, Georgia proves to be one of the worst states in the nation for health and wellness, according to a new report called America’s Health Rankings from the United Health Foundation.
Georgia, along with the rest of the South, make up the ten least healthy states in the nation. Long lives are overrated these days anyways.
Not surprisingly, access to insurance is one of the factors the report recognizes for improving health outcomes across the nation. As one of the states that refused to expand Medicaid, Georgia has the second largest percent of uninsured people in the nation, with one in seven Georgians still lacking any kind of insurance.
You know, health insurance, that little thing that allows people to afford life-saving medication, get regular check-ups, and better manage health conditions — before they lead to a hospital visit. But Donald Trump, with Georgia’s own Tom Price at his side, has promised to gut the ACA (often called Obamacare), and Georgia Republicans, so far, have shown little interest in stepping up to the health insurance plate.
Georgia fares poorly on many key social determinants of health, social factors that are known to impact health outcomes, and are shaped by someone’s access to resources. We still have one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the nation, with fewer than 80 percent of folks ever graduating.
This state also has the distinction of being one of the bottom five states for children in poverty. More than a quarter of children in Georgia live in poverty, which is something to keep in mind as Gov. Nathan Deal and conservative legislators gear up to talk education reform (including retooling the funding formula). Kids living in poverty deal with housing insecurity, food insecurity and other disruptions at home. This means they benefit from additional supports in school, like wrap-around services, which requires actually investing in Georgia’s public education system.
The report also highlights that the lack of access to health care providers — from dentists to OB/GYNs — continues to be a problem in Georgia.
And, while the report does not highlight HIV on its own, it’s another area where both Georgia, along with our Southern brethren, lead the nation in both new infections and deaths. If people can get linked with care, and stay in care, it’s entirely possible to end the spread HIV and make sure HIV positive people live long, healthy lives.
There is so much room for improvement, but it’s always good to at least start with an assessment of where the state stands. Check out the full report here, it’s worth the read.