2014 data shows improvement, more work to be done

Clackamas County is once again in the top tier of Oregon counties for a range of health factors, according to a new national report that ranks each county in every state where there is sufficient data.

Clackamas County ranked fifth in overall health outcomes in Oregon, which matches last year’s rankings. Clackamas County also ranked fourth in overall health factors, which has been consistent since 2012.

The 2014 County Health Rankings is a national system that ranks counties within each state in two categories: health outcomes and health factors. The health outcomes category evaluates how healthy people are within a county based on a range of issues, such as birth rates, diabetes, asthma and other health conditions. The health factors category ranks counties according to how healthy the living environment is for people, which includes factors like access to parks and medical care.

In the health factors category, Benton, Hood River and Washington County ranked higher than Clackamas County. In the health outcomes category, those three counties, along with Grant County, ranked higher. Clackamas County remains in the top quartile for most measures.

“Clackamas County remains a great place to live and raise a family,” said Cindy Becker, director of the Clackamas County Department of Health, Housing, and Human Services (H3S). “We are proud that the county remains in the top tier for health in the state.”

The population younger than 65 that is uninsured in Clackamas County dropped 2 percentage points from last year to 14 percent in 2014. Clackamas County remains lower than the overall Oregon uninsured rate of 18 percent and much lower than the national average.

The assessment of the physical environment within the county dropped to 25th from ninth in 2011 and has fluctuated each year. This may have been the result of changes in the measures currently used to gauge the built environment. Three measures were added —severe housing problems, driving alone to work, and the length of the commute while driving alone. Those measures replaced three other measures — access to recreational facilities, the percentage of restaurants that are fast-food restaurants, and limited access to healthy foods. No matter the reason, Clackamas County is looking into how it can improve this number in the coming year.

“Even though we are continuing to exceed state health levels, we still have plenty of work to do to improve the health of all Clackamas County residents,” Becker said.

This is the fifth year of the County Health Rankings, the most comprehensive report of its kind. The report ranks the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states, using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live.

The report allows counties to compare themselves to their neighbors.

The report by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is an annual “health checkup” ranking counties using such criteria as the length and quality of life of county residents as well as health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.

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