Oklahoma ranks 44th in health care

Oklahoma is short on doctors, health insurance coverage and dental care, according to a new national study by WalletHub.com.

In the overall assessment, Oklahoma is No. 44 in health care in the nation.

Oklahoma ranks as No. 14 Health care costs, No. 33 Health care access and No. 47 Health care outcomes.

One troubling statistic is that Oklahoma ranks No. 47 in highest infant mortality rate.

According to the WalletHub report, major insurers such as Aetna, Humana and United Healthcare recently announced their exit from state-sponsored insurance exchanges while the uninsured rate has fallen to a historic low, bringing into question the cost and quality of health care in America.

In WalletHub’s 2016’s States with the Best & Worst Health Care, the financial website compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 29 key factors. The data set ranges from “average monthly insurance premium” to “number of physicians per capita” to “percentage of adults and children with health-insurance coverage.”

Here’s how Oklahoma ranked (1 is best, 25 is average):

46th Number of Physicians per Capita
22nd Number of Dentists per Capita
22nd Physician Medicare Acceptance Rate
46th Percentage of Adults Aged 18 to 64 with Health Insurance
44th Percentage of Children Aged 0 to 17 with Health Insurance
31st Percentage of At-Risk Adults Without a Routine Doctor Visit in Past Two Years
50th Percentage of Adults Without a Dental Visit in Past Year

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, state health costs depend on a number of factors, ranging from federal legislation to the overall health of residents to the number of “public charges” such as prisoners and recipients of social assistance. And often, policy makers have no hand in determining or swaying the amounts that residents shell out for health expenditures.

For every American, that amount is about $9,523 annually and expected to rise in the coming years, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In 2014, health spending accounted for 17.5 percent of national GDP. By 2025, that figure will increase by an estimated 2.6 percent. An international comparison of health expenses reveals that Americans even pay the highest for certain prescription drugs and some common medical procedures compared with patients in other wealthy countries. At $15,930, the average price tag of an appendectomy in the United States, for instance, is nearly double the charge in the United Kingdom and almost eight times as high as in Spain.

The study states, “But higher costs don’t necessarily translate to better care and treatment here at home. The Kaiser Family Foundation found in its latest analysis of global health care quality that the United States remains outperformed by several of its peers ‘on a large number of measures,’ despite improved performance in others. In particular, the United States lags in ‘life expectancy at birth; cost-related barriers to health care access; the prevalence of retained surgical items or unretrieved device fragments; and burden of disease, which takes into account years of life lost due to premature death and years of life lost to poor health or disability.’”

While Oklahoma experienced a $1.3 billion state budget shortfall, the Legislature worked to keep health care programs from being adversely affected.

“Against overwhelming circumstances, the governor and the legislature are protecting health care access for thousands of Oklahoma kids, pregnant moms, seniors and individuals with disabilities,” Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Nico Gomez said in May. “We are incredibly grateful for their hard work. Their budget agreement focuses on protecting the health care of Oklahomans, and nearly fills the required budgetary needs of our agency. It is now time for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to deliver on leadership’s priority declaration and minimize the impact to the health care professionals we count on to serve our SoonerCare members.”

The Oklahoma Health Department created a Healthy Oklahoma 2020 report. That report targets a reduction in tobacco use in the state. Tobacco continues to be the leading preventable cause of death in Oklahoma, causing about 6,000 deaths in our state per year. Smoking kills more Oklahomans than alcohol, auto accidents, AIDS, suicides, murders and illegal drugs combined.

According to the report, obesity is a health problem here. Oklahoma’s adult obesity rate is 32 percent, the seventh highest in the nation.

Mental health and substance abuse are problems with almost 22 percent of Oklahomans reporting a mental health issue and 12 percent with substance abuse problems.