Jul. 18—WILKES-BARRE — The Indicators Report for 2021 shows that health and health care are major components of any region — not just because of health status — but also because health's impact on the economy.
"Demographics also complicate these statistics," Ooms said. "Cancer is more prevalent among older individuals, for instance. While the cancer death rates have fluctuated in
The reports shows that the age-adjusted rate of death by heart disease — another leading cause of death in the
"Although the rate of heart disease deaths declined in
The report also shows that positive test results for elevated childhood lead levels, as identified in screenings of children younger than 72 months, is more common in
Screening for childhood lead exposure is not mandated. Testing rates in
Personal behavior impacts many health conditions, including but not limited to heart disease and cancer, Ooms said.
"Making healthy lifestyle choices is extremely important," she said. "However, eating healthy can be costly and access to healthy food can be limited."
Ooms said at a time when many area residents are living with low or moderate incomes, healthy choices are not always top priorities. Issues of social determinants and the existence of food deserts in the region also complicate efforts to improve population health.
The adult obesity rate has stood at around 30 percent regionally and statewide in recent years. In two key health-related behaviors, this area has performed worse in recent years than the state as a whole.
Cigarette smoking has been more prevalent in
The report also shows that drug overdose deaths declined in both counties in 2019, and are lower in comparison to rates in 2015, while the statewide rate of drug overdose deaths has increased by one-third during this time. The rate of opioid prescriptions have decreased annually in all three regions. Fentanyl is a major factor in persistent deaths from drug overdoses.
"The prevalence of these high-risk behaviors is a significant public health concern," Ooms said.
Health insurance coverage of area residents has improved between 2010 and 2019, although the insured rates have stabilized or declined slightly in more recent years. A considerably larger proportion of individuals had coverage in 2019 than in 2010, largely due to an increase in people covered by public health insurance.
"There has indeed been a strong increase in public health insurance regionally, while the percent of the population covered by private health coverage has been slowly declining regionally and statewide," Ooms said. "Enrollment in federal marketplace plans has continued to decline in both counties and in
Finally, Ooms said the cost of health care is an important concern. Though
Between 2013 and 2019, for example, the daily private hospital room rate has increased by 52 percent in
The semi-private daily room rate for nursing home facilities has also grown, increasing three percent in
Both counties have more nursing home beds per 1,000 seniors compared to the statewide rate.
However, Ooms said the number of beds is lower regionally and statewide compared with rates in 2016-2017, with the senior population continuing to grow and increasing life expectancy demand will grow for long-term care.
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