Hawaii tops list for low-income health care

Published On: Nov 25 2013 11:32:17 AM HST

HONOLULU -

Hawaii health system ranked the best in the nation for low-income populations according to The Commonwealth Fund Scorecard.

The State Health System Performance for Low-Income Populations is a national scorecard that analyzed 30 indicators within four dimensions.

Hawaii ranks in the top quartile for three of four system dimensions -- Access to Affordability, Potentially Avoidable Hospital Use, and Healthy Lives.

Hawaii ranks in the second quartile for the fourth indicator, Prevention and Treatment.  There are currently 292,000 individuals enrolled in Hawaii Med-QUEST programs, which are administered through the Department of Human Services.

"This 2013 Commonwealth Fund scorecard demonstrates that Hawaii is on the right track to improving access to affordable health care, and the state Med-QUEST Division is leading the way," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who has made healthcare transformation a top priority of his administration.  "Our healthcare system supports the optimum health of all state residents by providing a seamless, integrated and comprehensive healthcare system. This approach consistently demonstrates high-quality care, and a commitment to cost-effectiveness. It also enhances the patient experience and engages patients in their own healthcare decisions."

For low-income populations whose standard of living is 200 percent of the federal poverty level, Hawaii reported the second lowest percentage of uninsured adults, the second lowest percentage of uninsured children, and the lowest percentage of adults who went without health care in the past year due to cost.  Hawaii also is ranked first for the lowest rate of potentially avoidable hospital use and second for the lowest rate of potentially avoidable emergency department visits for low-income Medicare beneficiaries, and first for the lowest rate of poor health related quality of life for low-income adults 18-64 years old.

"It's the prevention component that makes the difference," said DHS Director, Patricia McManaman.  "When vulnerable individuals have access to affordable and reliable medical services, they are more likely to visit their doctor on a regular basis. The Commonwealth Fund scorecard reflects the commitment of our healthcare providers to our community."

While Hawaii is ranked the top state, there is room for improvement.  Hawaii ranked below average on four indicators -- older adult preventive care, surgical care to prevent complications, hospital 30-day mortality, and hospital discharge instructions for home recovery. Because the report is generally based on 2010 and 2011 data, these areas may have since improved.  No states ranked in the top quartile or even top half of the range for all 30 indicators.

To improve the overall health and economic well-being of low-income populations, states must invest in the health of their most vulnerable populations.  Healthier adults are less expensive for taxpayers, and have greater workforce productivity. Healthier children are more likely to succeed in school and participate in the future workforce.  A healthy population is thus instrumental in maintaining strong local and state economies, as well as the nation’s economic health and well-being.

Hawaii was ranked first followed by Wisconsin, Vermont, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

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