Washington Is the 9th Healthiest State

The number of smokers and uninsured residents in Washington state decreased significantly over the last five years.

Washington is one of the ten healthiest states in America, according to a new ranking from the United Health Foundation.

The state of Washington ranks 9th overall among the state ranking, behind only Massachussets (1), Hawaii (2), Vermont (3), Utah (4), Connecticut (5), Minnesota (6), Colorado (7) and New Hampshire (8). Washington state is down slightly from 2016, when it ranked 7th, which was the state’s highest ranking going back to 1990. The state also ranked 9th in 2015.

Among reasons for the state’s high ranking are several significant changes over the last five years. Since 2012, the state’s smoking rate has decreased from 17.5 percent to 13.9 percent, and the percentage uninsured has dropped from 14.2 percent to 6.3 percent. Notably, the Affordable Care Act was implemented during that time, and Washington expanded Medicaid and created its own state health insurance exchange as part of that implementation.

Negatives for the state include an increase in diabetes for adults, which went from 8.4 percent of adults to 9.4 percent in a single year, and a 28% increase in cases of chlamydia over the past five years.

Overall strengths for the state include its low prevalence of smoking, low preventable hospitalization rate, and low prevalence of low birth weight. Challenges include a large disparity in health status by educational attainment, high incidence of pertussis and low rates of adolescent immunization for meningococcal disease, according to the America’s Health Rankings report.

For more information on how Washington ranked in more than 35 different categories, click here.

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