The Dose

Welcome to The Dose, which tackles the business and economics inside the turbulent world of health care and life sciences in Indiana. Your host is John Russell. To contact me call 317-472-5383.

The healthiest county in Indiana? Still Hamilton

March 19, 2018

For the eighth year in a row, Hamilton County has been ranked as the healthiest county in Indiana.

And for the eighth year in a row, Marion County ranks near the bottom: 75th this year out of 92 counties—up slightly from 79th place last year.

The adjoining counties represent the wide health disparities in Indiana on a broad measure of indicators, from smoking rates to teen pregnancies.

The rankings are a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, issued every year since 2011. (See the entire report here.)

Counties are ranked in two broad measures. “Health Outcomes” measure length and quality of life—with length measured by premature deaths and quality based on overall health and low birth weight infants.

“Health Factors” looks at education, employment, income, family and social support, community safety and lifestyle issues, such as drinking and exercise.

In both categories, Hamilton County has remained the healthiest county in Indiana every year since 2011. Low birth rates affect only 7 percent of the population. Only 13 percent of adults smoke. About 27 percent of adults are obese. Only 6 percent of residents are uninsured. And about 86 percent of the county has at least some college education.

In contrast, Marion County has been stuck in the 70s and 80s among all states for health outcomes, and in the 80s and 90s for health factors. Low birth rates affect 9 percent of the population. About 21 percent of adults in the county smoke, and 33 percent are obese. About 14 percent of residents are uninsured and 62 percent have at least some college education.

Among other counties in central Indiana:

Hendricks County ranked No. 2 this year for health outcomes and No. 3 for health factors (both unchanged from last year).

Hancock County ranked No. 7 for health outcomes (unchanged) and No. 5 for health factors (up from No. 6 last year).

Boone County ranked No. 4 for health outcomes (down from third last year) and No. 2 for health factors (unchanged).

Johnson County ranked No. 8 for health outcomes (down from No. 5 last year) and No. 7 for health factors (up from No. 8 last year).

Morgan County ranked 55th for health outcomes (down from No. 41 last year and No. 32 for health factors (up from No. 42 last year).

Shelby County ranked No. 46 year in health outcomes (down from No. 32 last year) and 46th for health factors (down from No. 40 last year.)

The report also offers conclusions about the nation’s health. Nationally, the percentage of babies born with low weight is on the rise, child poverty remains at high levels and teen birth rates have been declining.


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