Doctor using electronic notepad

December 11, 2013

AZ Business Magazine

Arizona Ranks 28 Among All U.S. States for Health

Americans are making considerable progress in their overall health, according to United Health Foundation’s 2013 America’s Health Rankings®: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities.

Nationwide, Americans improved in a majority of the measures captured by the Rankings. The most notable gains came in key behavioral measures, including smoking, physical activity and obesity.

Arizona’s Overall Health

According to the 24th Edition of America’s Health Rankings®, Arizona ranks 28th when compared with other states, down two spots from last year’s adjusted rankings. The 2013 report illustrates Arizona has its share of strengths and challenges.

Arizona’s Strengths

> Low occupational fatality rate: Arizona ranks 4th in the country for occupational deaths, with 3.2 deaths per 100,000 workers.
> Low rate of preventable hospitalizations: The rate of preventable hospitalizations in Arizona is 51.4 discharges per 1,000 Medicare enrollees, ranking Arizona 10th in the country.
> Low rates of cancer deaths and cardiovascular deaths: Arizona ranks 5th and 7th in the country for deaths related to cancer and cardiovascular disease, respectively.

Arizona’s Challenges

> High rate of drug deaths: Arizona ranks 42nd in the country, with 16 deaths per 100,000 population related to drugs.
> Low high school graduation rate: Arizona’s high school graduation rate is 74.7 percent, ranking 42nd in the U.S.
> High rates of physical inactivity and obesity: Almost 1.2 million adults in Arizona are physically inactive, and almost 1.4 million are obese.

Key Arizona Challenges Addressed by UnitedHealthcare Programs

UnitedHealthcare watches America’s Health Rankings® closely to better understand the health of individuals and communities across the nation and in Arizona. UnitedHealthcare has several programs in place designed to address the nation’s health challenges at a state level. These programs help educate people on living healthier lives and empower communities to take action to improve their health.

Programs to fight childhood obesity: UnitedHealthcare actively promotes and supports initiatives to raise awareness about childhood obesity, including partnerships with World Fit, a 40 day walking program for elementary students, and the Amenzone Foundation.
Innovations to make health care decisions easier: UnitedHealthcare’s myHealthcare Cost Estimator tool is available to more than 1.3 million Arizonans. The health care price transparency tool shows consumers both quality and cost measures associated with the most common medical procedures, allowing consumers the opportunity to make more informed decisions about their care. In addition, UnitedHealthcare’s Health4Me app provides instant access to information such as nearby physicians, the status of a claim, or direct communication with a nurse.

Partnerships for coordinated care: UnitedHealthcare joined Arizona Connected Care in Southern Arizona to offer an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) to employer-sponsored UHC participants. Arizona Connected Care is a physician-led, patient-centric ACO that manages all aspects of patient health care, ensuring the proper course of treatment and preventative health measures are being following. This model will help manage services for patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, while keeping the focus on health and well-being, increased patient safety and care delivery well supported by science.

Additionally, United Health Foundation provides a variety of tools to help communities and individuals make healthy choices, including customizable reports, enhanced social media and other innovative online resources on its website,

“United Health Foundation’s annual America’s Health Rankings® provides an invaluable look at the challenges and opportunities facing Arizona and how the picture of health in our state compares with those of our region and our nation,” said Dr. Robert Beauchamp, senior medical director of UnitedHealthcare in Arizona. “This report is an important tool for designing meaningful programs to address our biggest challenges and to help us measure the progress we’ve made in our efforts to date.”

50-State Snapshot: Hawaii the Healthiest; Mississippi Least Healthy

Hawaii has taken the title of healthiest state. Vermont, last year’s reported No. 1 state, is ranked second this year and has ranked among the top five states for the last decade. Minnesota is third, followed by Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Mississippi ranks 50th this year, and Arkansas (49), Louisiana (48), Alabama (47) and West Virginia (46) complete the five least healthy states.

To see the Rankings in full, please visit:

Nationwide: Despite Progress, Significant Challenges Remain

Nationwide, notable gains in key behavioral measures included smoking, which dropped from 21.2 percent of the adult population to 19.6 percent. Seventeen states had significant drops in smoking, with the largest seen in Nevada, Maryland, Oklahoma, Kansas and Vermont.

Physical inactivity dropped from 26.2 percent of the adult population to 22.9 percent, and America’s obesity rate remained approximately the same as reported in 2012 (27.6 percent of the adult population in 2013 compared with 27.8 percent in 2012). This marks the first time since 1998 that obesity rates have not worsened.

When it comes to improving the nation’s health, there is still much to be done. Obesity has leveled off; however, it must remain a top priority. With the current rate of physical inactivity and the diabetes rate at 9.7 percent, there is still considerable room for improvement in these key health measures. The drop in smoking rates is encouraging, but the report shows nearly one in five adults still smoke.

“I am encouraged by the progress we’ve made this year and hope that the leveling off we see in America’s obesity rate is a sign of further improvement to come,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., external senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “We should certainly celebrate these gains. They encourage us to continue to identify and effectively implement best practices that will continue progress in these areas and in addressing diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health conditions that compromise Americans’ health and vitality.”

Nationwide: United Health Foundation Calls for Sustained Momentum

“United Health Foundation is committed to continuing to identify ways to improve health in states in measurable, meaningful ways,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation and chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “I hope we soon see the day when we are cheering year-over-year improvements in obesity, given its profound impact on our country, and I look forward to seeing our nation’s percentage of smokers continue to decline.”

The America’s Health Rankings® report and its tools – including analysis not only of state populations but also sub-populations within states – are designed to identify health opportunities in communities as well as multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary approaches to address those opportunities. Through its programs and grants, United Health Foundation shines a spotlight on the health of America while promoting evidence-based solutions. As part of this commitment, United Health Foundation has partnered with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and with the National Business Coalition on Health to create learning laboratories that identify and promote best practices and innovations in public health. To learn more about America’s Health Rankings – and to get information on how to help improve community health – visit