Missouri's Health Ranked the Eighth Worst in the Nation
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - A new report says Missouri has seen a steady decline in the health of its residents.
The report by the Missouri Hospital Association notes that the state fell from 24th in 1990 to 42nd last year in health rankings produced by the United Health Foundation.
The hospital association says average life expectancies in St. Louis and parts of southeast Missouri now are lower than in some parts of the world that are considered less developed, such as Vietnam, Honduras and Venezuela.
"Since 1991, Missouri has been ranked exclusively below average in terms of the factors and outcomes that determine its population health," according to the report.
In 2012, Missouri had the third highest incidence of heart attacks, the fourth lowest immunization rate, and the eighth highest rate of smoking. Missouri's tax on cigarettes is the lowest in the nation at 17 cents per pack.
The hospital organization says improved access to insurance could help address the state's poor health status. A separate report from the U.S. Census Bureau says 16 percent of Missourians, close to 807,000 people, under age 65 were uninsured in 2011.
Insured individuals generally have more access to a usual source of care and are more likely to seek out preventive health services. Overall this leads to less hospitalizations and better long-term health.
Adults without children in Missouri are not eligible for Medicaid no matter their income. Adults with children are eligible for Medicaid only if their annual household income is 18 percent of the Federal Poverty Level or less. 38 percent of those uninsured are below the Federal Poverty Level.
The hospital group has been pushing for Missouri to expand Medicaid eligibility.