United Health Foundation releases annual America's Health Rankings reports

United Health Foundation's America’s Health Rankings annual report is out, one of the longest-running assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis.

According to the 2017 report, the analysis looks at 35 measures covering behaviors, community and environment, policy, clinical care and outcomes data. The report also serves as a benchmark for states – and the nation – to measure progress, identify emerging trends and drive action for improving public health.

The nation is facing public health challenges, including rising rates of premature death and an uneven concentration of key health care providers.

Across the U.S., the premature death rate (the number of years of potential life lost before age 75) increased for the third straight year, reaching 7,214 years lost before age 75 per 100,000 population. This recent rise is concerning, particularly after the premature death rate declined dramatically by 20 percent from 1990 to 2015.

2017 also saw increases in the rates of cardiovascular and drug deaths nationwide. Cardiovascular deaths increased in the U.S. for the second consecutive year. The rate among blacks is significantly higher than the rate among whites, Hispanics, Asians and American Indians/Alaska Natives. Drug deaths continued on an upward trend, increasing by 7 percent to the highest level recorded by America’s Health Rankings (15.0 deaths per 100,000 population) and were particularly high among whites.

The report finds that over the past five years, even some of the nation’s healthiest states by overall rank have experienced notable increases in key measures of mortality. Three northeastern states that regularly rank toward the top in overall health have experienced large increases in drug deaths.