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How America’s Health Rankings impact residents of Kansas, Missouri

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Posted at 5:51 PM, Feb 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-03 12:05:49-05

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The United Health Foundation’s 2022 annual America’s Health Rankings report placed Missouri as the 39th healthiest and Kansas as the 31st among all states.

New Hampshire was the healthiest, with Louisiana ranking last, according to the report.

“I call it a balanced scorecard approach,” Dr. Lee Norman, former Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary, said in support of the report’s methodology.

Norman now works as the senior medical director for Optum, a health care delivery organization that launched in the Kansas City region this year.

The health rankings report looks at obvious signs of good health, including the number of people who smoke and how many people have access to health care through health insurance.

But it also takes into account risk factors like poverty and access to high-speed internet.

Here is how Kansas and Missouri ranked in some of the categories:

  • Community and family safety: Kansas 43, Missouri 44
  • Public health funding: Kansas 39, Missouri 42
  • Economic resources: Kansas 19, Missouri 32
  • Air and water quality: Kansas 41, Missouri 20
  • Access to care: Kansas 34, Missouri 37
  • Quality of care: Kansas 19, Missouri 33
  • Preventative clinical services: Kansas 26, Missouri 28
  • Smoking: Kansas 35, Missouri 42
  • Nutrition and physical activity: Kansas 35, Missouri 46

Norman says the rankings will mostly affect public policy. Legislators can use the data to fund initiatives at federal, state and local levels.

For individuals, he suggests meeting with a primary care physician or nurse practitioner once a year to have open conversations about mitigating risks most present in their area.

“There is a way that you can approach this and still have a fun life as part of that,” Norman said about patients interested in making lifestyle changes.