A 2009 study conducted by America’s Health Rankings found Ohio in 33rd place for overall health, which is a step up from its ranking of 34th place in 2008. So what major changes have spurred this slight but measurable improvement? Healthy Ohio is a key component of Governor Ted Strickland’s comprehensive health care reform initiative and is run by the Ohio Department of Health.
Healthy Ohio’s goal is to improve the health of all Ohioans to create a better quality of life, assure a more productive workforce and equip students for learning, while also contributing to the more efficient and cost-effective use of medical services. Healthy Ohio works to provide the information and tools Ohioans need to lead more active lives, eat a balanced diet, avoid tobacco use and receive appropriate health screenings--strategies that will, over time, help reduce the incidence and increase the early detection and long-term management of chronic disease.
Currently in Ohio, obesity is more prevalent among non-Hispanic blacks at 43.1% than non-Hispanic whites at 27.7%. The prevalence of diabetes also varies by race and ethnicity in the state; 14.4% of non-Hispanic blacks have diabetes compared to 8.1% of non-Hispanic whites. These statistics are staggering because they illustrate the overwhelming imbalance that exists among different races in terms of healthy living. Healthy Ohio recognizes that the tools necessary to achieve and maintain health are not universally available, and strives to identify and reduce disparities that exist.
Strengths in the Ohio health system include a low rate of uninsured population at 11.6%, high immunization coverage - with 82.9% of children ages 19 to 35 months receiving complete immunizations – and a decrease in the prevalence of smoking from 23.1% to 20.1% of the population in the past five years.
Like most states, Ohio has a long way to go to get healthy, but with the implementation of Healthy Ohio and the recent nationwide health care changes, it looks like Ohio has a bright future.