While efforts to improve the health of Texans are gaining ground, the state continues to struggle with obesity, lack of health insurance coverage and poor access to care, finds an annual study released Thursday.
Texas ranked 33 in overall health on the America’s Health Rankings report, which evaluates states on a suite of metrics, like smoking prevalence, infant mortality and health insurance coverage. The United Health Foundation, a non-profit established by the health benefits provider UnitedHealth, has issued the annual report since 1989.
This year’s rank represents a one point improvement over last year, and is far better than the ranking of 42 the state received in 2011.
On the positive, Texas performed above the national average on about 10 out of the total 34 factors evaluated. For example, there was a low rate of overdoses from opioids, or prescription pain medications.
Recent studies have noted how the introduction of a 2010 “pill mill” legislation in Texas led to clinically significant reductions in opioid dose, volume, prescriptions and pills dispensed, according to a recent study.
The new report also found that high school graduates represent 89 percent of the population. That’s a good thing in light of studies that have found graduates tend to have better health outcomes.
Also more young women between the ages of 13 and 17 got the human papillomavirus vaccine, which helps prevent cervical and other HPV-related cancers. HPV vaccination rates remain low nationwide, and nearly half of Texas teens fail to get it, estimates have found.
However, the America’s Health Rankings also pointed out many ongoing challenges.
An estimated 18 percent of the population in Texas did not have health insurance.
That’s consistent with recent U.S. Census data, which found that although uninsured rates have been declining, Texas maintains a higher percentage than the national average.
Recent estimates found that about one-fifth of the 2.5 million living in Dallas County were uninsured in 2015.
It also found that one in three adults in Texas is obese, and more than 10 percent of the adult population has diabetes. Over the past year, the number of smokers increased five percent, and the incidence of chlamydia increased 16 percent.