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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Howard County 13th healthiest county in the Country for kids

   So we make another national list for living in a great county.  US News and World Report ( I didn't know they still existed) listed us as the 13th healthiest county in the the Country for kids.  Here is what the report said about Howard County:

    "In 2011, Howard became the first county in Maryland to ban smoking at its 50-plus parks. “Our families are thankful for the policy – frankly, it’s what they’ve come to expect,” says county executive Ken Ulman. When he took office in 2006, his goal, he says, was to make Howard a “model public health community.” Today, Healthy Howard programs certify schools, restaurants, workplaces and child care facilities – designations that help people make the smartest choices about where to eat, live, work and play, Ulman says. Another pride point: In 2009, Howard became the first county in the nation to ban minors from tanning beds. “We had to fight the industry and those who said we were going too far,” Ulman recalls. “But there’s no need to expose our young people to those [cancer] risks. I’m heartened to think of the problems we avoided … we took some heat, but it was worth it.”

      We may quickly shrug off these selections by national news magazines because they happen so often. Kind of like winner another beauty contest.  I am sure these selections are great recruiting tools for our Economic Development Office. Who wouldn't want to relocate to Howard County?  But lets not fool ourselves why we make so many of these lists.  We are a well educated, wealthy county.  I think some of the credit for this reality goes to Jim Rouse and the development of Columbia as a well planned community that attracted a highly educated, progressive population.  To state the obvious I would use this equation ---education=wealth=health.  Look at the top 50 listed communities in the US News and World Report.  Most have a poverty rate under half the national average.  In the US (and maybe in most countries) health status and poverty are still closely linked.  Almost all the 50 communities are in the Northeast or West Coast.  None are in the South or the lower part of the Midwest.  Looking at just Maryland the unhealthy counties are on the Eastern Shore and Baltimore City.
     The link between health and poverty can probably be broken down into 2 main factors--lifestyle and access to health care.  The Kaiser Family Foundation often reports on the link to having insurance and health status.  Here is what they have reported:
     "Uninsured people are far more likely than those with insurance to report problems getting needed medical care.  One-quarter of adults without coverage (25%) say that they went  without care in the past year because of its cost compared to 4% of adults with private coverage.  Part of the reason for poor access among the uninsured is that more than half of uninsured adults (55%) do not have a regular place to go when they are sick or need medical advice (Figure 11)."

     My favorite list that we made is still the one for the best place to date a nerd.


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