Building a Healthier Tomorrow for Illinois, Today

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

By: Charles D. Ettelson, M.D.
Market Medical Director, UnitedHealthcare of Illinois

In an annual checkup of our nation’s health, Illinois ranked 28 among all 50 states in 2015. Those findings come from United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® Annual Report, which has been measuring national and state health for just over a quarter of a century. As a regional Market Medical Director with UnitedHealthcare, I always look forward to the America’s Health Rankings Annual Report because it offers an overview of where we stand in health both as a nation and relative to our peer states. The report provides a reflection of Illinois’ health that is at once sobering and encouraging. Over the last 26 years, Illinois’ health has gradually improved. In 1990, Illinois was ranked 34.

Strengths in Illinois include a low rate of drug deaths, availability of primary care physicians and a decrease in premature deaths. Challenges in the state include a high prevalence of excessive drinking, high levels of air pollution and high rate of preventable hospitalizations. Measuring and monitoring our nation’s health has never been more important, and the results of this year’s America’s Health Rankings Annual Report show how far we’ve come in the last 26 years – and how far we still have to go as a country. This year’s data show that as a nation, Americans are smoking less and living less sedentary lifestyles; however, our country is facing complex health challenges that threaten Americans’ health and quality of life. Obesity and diabetes are at all-time highs. Rates of drug deaths, including illegal and prescription drug abuse, as well as children living in poverty, are on the rise.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Understanding trends in health and wellness makes it clear where we need to focus our resources and attention. Facing our challenges with obesity and diabetes is a good place to start. Very little cash is needed for all of us to do our part regarding diet and exercise. Yet, the health and financial dividends for progress in this area are enormous. When it comes to the future of Illinois’ health, and America’s health, we are all in it together. Let’s commit now to making the changes necessary to ensure that we build a healthier tomorrow, today.

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