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Arizona ranks No. 22 for senior health

Arizona ranked No. 22 for senior health this year, according to the third edition of United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities.

Nationwide, the report shows positive trends for senior health, especially for those measures that look at whether seniors are getting the right care in a setting of their choice. Seniors are experiencing lower hospital readmission rates and preventable hospitalization rates compared to last year, while hospice care use and the number of home healthcare workers have increased.

“United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report is a vital tool for understanding where we, as a state, are making strides in senior health and where key challenges for Arizona’s seniors remain,” said Thomas Biuso, MD, market medical director, UnitedHealthcare in Arizona. “With America’s senior population poised to double by 2050, we must continue to invest in programs and solutions that address our seniors’ health needs and help them live the best lives they possibly can.”

Arizona’s Overall Health

The America’s Health Rankings Senior Report finds that Arizona has its share of strengths and challenges.

Arizona’s Strengths

  • Low prevalence of obesity: Arizona ranks 5th in the U.S. with 23.2 percent of adults over age 65 considered obese.
  • High hospice care use: Arizona ranks first in the country for hospice care use, with more than 65 percent of decendents aged 65 who received hospice care in the last six months of life.
  • High health status: Arizona ranks 7th, with 46.5 percent of the senior population in very good or excellent health.

Arizona’s Challenges

  • High prevalence of chronic drinking: More than 4 percent of the senior population reports chronic drinking, ranking Arizona 37th in the U.S.
  • Low volunteerism: Less than 20 percent of Arizona seniors volunteer, ranking Arizona 45th.
  • Low percentage of seniors with dedicated provider: More than eight percent of the senior population does not have a dedicated health care provider, ranking Arizona 42nd.

50-State Snapshot: Vermont is the Healthiest State for Seniors

According to the report, Vermont is the healthiest state for seniors, rising from fourth place last year. New Hampshire ranks second, improving one spot from last year. Minnesota fell to third after being ranked first for two years in a row, while Hawaii (4) and Utah (5) round out the top five states. Louisiana HHLaouLranks 50th as the least healthy state for older adults, followed by Mississippi (49), Kentucky (48), Arkansas (47) and Oklahoma (46).

To see the Rankings in full, visit: www.americashealthrankings.org/senior

Medical Technology - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

Arizona Ranks 23rd for Senior Health

Arizona is ranked 23rdfor senior health, according to the inaugural edition of United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities.

United Health Foundation commissioned the America’s Health RankingsSenior Report to examine the health challenges affecting today’s seniors and to encourage the nation and local communities to find ways to improve senior health. Americans are living longer but sicker lives and that America’s senior population is poised to grow more than 50 percent between 2015 and 2030, making senior health a timely and critical national issue.

The America’s Health Rankings Senior Report is the most comprehensive rankings to date of senior health on state levels and can be viewed and downloaded at www.americashealthrankings.org. This report builds on the annual America’s Health Rankings report which, for 23 years, has presented the definitive analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings.

“United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report is a highly valuable tool to help gain a greater understanding of the heath challenges faced by Arizona’s seniors,” said Robert Beauchamp, MD, Medical Director for UnitedHealthcare in Arizona. “Arizona’s growing senior population points to the urgency of identifying key opportunities for improving senior health and pursuing effective solutions at the national, state, community and family levels.”

The America’s Health RankingsSenior Report assesses state-level performance on 34 different elements, including both health determinants and health outcomes.

The America’s Health Rankings Senior Report finds that Arizona has its share of strengths and challenges for senior health.

Arizona’s Strengths:

* Ranks 1st in availability of hospice care
* Ranks 2nd in the rate of hospital deaths
* Low prevalence of physical inactivity (5th in the U.S.)

Arizona’s Challenges

* Ranks 44th for number of seniors who are underweight
* Ranks 48th for highly rated nursing homes
* Low percentage of volunteerism (18.8 percent)
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Among all 50 States: Minnesota leads the nation for senior health, followed by Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Iowa. Mississippi ranks 50th, preceded by Oklahoma, Louisiana, West Virginia, and Arkansas.

Older Americans are experiencing troubling rates of chronic health conditions, according to the Senior Report. About 80 percent of seniors are living with at least one chronic health condition, while 50 percent of seniors have two or more chronic health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, the report finds that more than 25 percent of seniors nationwide are obese.

“Chronic illness is unnecessarily high among seniors,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior advisor to United Health Foundation and chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. “The coordination of care for seniors, particularly the 50 percent of the population with multiple chronic illnesses, is complex and increases pressure on our country’s caregivers and our health care system.”

Through its portfolio of Medicare plans, UnitedHealthcare supports Medicare beneficiaries in Arizona with clinical solutions that help address health concerns underscored in the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report. These programs include:

* Integrated disease management and care coordination programs, which provide select Medicare Advantage plan members with chronic health conditions – such as diabetes or certain types of heart disease – needed resources and support;
* UnitedHealthcare’s HouseCalls program, offering qualified Medicare Advantage plan members an at-home visit with a health care practitioner to assess health needs and discuss personal health concerns;
* UnitedHealthcare’s PharmAssist service, which provides select Medicare Advantage plan members with one-on-one counseling sessions with specialty-trained plan pharmacists to understand how to take their medications as prescribed.

America’s Health Rankings Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities offers a comprehensive analysis of senior population health on a national and state-by-state basis across 34 measures of senior health. In commissioning the report, United Health Foundation seeks to promote discussion around the health of Americans 65 years and older while driving communities, governments, stakeholders, families and individuals to take action to improve senior health.

Researchers drew data from more than 12 government agencies and leading research organizations to create a focused, uniquely rich data set for measuring senior health at the state level, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Labor, The Dartmouth Atlas Project, the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger and the Commonwealth Fund.

In addition to producing the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report, United Health Foundation also produces the annual America’s Health Rankings report. For 23 years, America’s Health Rankings has provided an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings. The Rankings employs a unique methodology, developed and annually reviewed by a Scientific Advisory Committee of leading public health scholars.

For more information on both reports, visit www.americashealthrankings.org.