Commonwealth Fund Says States Are Losing Ground

Increases in drug overdose, suicide, and alcohol death rates are taking a toll on life expectancy measures

The Commonwealth Fund's state-by-state report on health care performance that came out today paints a pretty grim picture.

The steady climb in the death rates from suicide, alcohol and drug overdoses means most states are losing ground on measures related to life expectancy, the reports says.  

Between 2005 and 2017, drug overdoses (overdoses per 100,000 population) have increased 115%, alcohol deaths by 37%, and suicide deaths by 28%, according to the report. West Virginia had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in 2017 (57.8 deaths per 100,000 residents), which is 2.5 times the national average and 25% higher than the next highest state, Ohio (46.3 deaths per 100,000).

The report also says that reductions in the uninsured have pretty much flattened out since 2015 and the gains experienced during the early years of the ACA.

There is good news if you live in Hawaii. The fund's report ranks states and the District of Columbia on 47 measures of access to health care, quality of care, cost of care, and other factors, including income-based disparities. Hawaii again topped those rankings, although it is among the states that have seen a large jump in its suicide rate (an 85% increase from 2005 to 2017). Other states in the top five are Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, and Connecticut.

The bottom five in the rankings are Arkansas, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi.