2019-06-12 ne-badhealthg1

Oklahoma has the next-to-worst health system in the country and is a lot closer to last than it is to the state just ahead of it, a report released Tuesday by the Commonwealth Fund says.

“Oklahoma and Mississippi stand out for poor performance even among poor performing states,” David Radley, one of the report’s authors, said during a teleconference.

Oklahoma ranked 50th among 50 states and the District of Columbia, just ahead of Mississippi and behind Texas. Hawaii’s system rated the best by far.

Tuesday’s report also highlighted a largely overlooked trend in the state. While much attention has been focused on opioids, deaths from alcohol actually grew at a faster rate than fatal drug overdoses from 2005 to 2017.

Drug deaths still outnumber those from alcohol, but the gap is closing. The death rate from drugs actually declined from 2013 to 2017, while the rate for alcohol-related deaths continued to increase.

The rankings released Tuesday were based on 47 criteria divided into five categories: access and affordability, prevention and treatment, avoidable hospital use and cost, healthy lives and disparity.

Oklahoma scored best for prevention and treatment, at 42nd, and worst for access and affordability, at 49th.

Of the ranking’s 47 criteria, the Commonwealth Fund said Oklahoma had improved on 13 since last year’s report, gotten worse in 10 and had seen no change in 22. Two of the criteria were new to this year’s report.

Oklahoma ranked 50th for uninsured adults and 49th for elderly patients receiving high-risk drugs, preventable deaths, colorectal deaths and certain hospital admissions.

The state ranked as high as fifth in a couple of categories — children 19-35 months with recommended vaccinations and home health patients enrolled in Medicare.

Nationally, the report found deaths from suicide, alcohol and drugs rising over a 12-year period, but that the effects of each were largely regional. It also found that rising health insurance premiums are being driven by higher costs, especially for prescription drugs and outpatient services, and not because of greater utilization of the system.

Efforts to expand access to health insurance have largely stalled and in some cases are retreating, the report says.

The Commonwealth Fund, created in 1918 with an endowment from New York socialite Anna Harkness, is a nonprofit dedicated to health care policy and delivery systems.

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Its 2019 “report card” released Tuesday is based primarily on 2017 data, which the authors said was the most recent available.

Trend data mostly covers 2005-2017.

Randy Krehbiel



Twitter: @rkrehbiel

Randy has been with the Tulsa World since 1979. He is a native of Hinton, Okla., and graduate of Oklahoma State University. Krehbiel primarily covers government and politics. Phone: 918-581-8365

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