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Nonprofit health policy group ranks Oklahoma's health system among worst in nation

New York-based Commonwealth Fund says Oklahoma fails to provide access to care and preventive care for adults and children, according to a report released Wednesday.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: April 29, 2014

Oklahoma has one of the worst health systems in the nation, a system that overall fails to provide access to care and prevent disease among the state’s adults and children, according to a report released Wednesday.

And if Oklahoma were to improve its health system and implement strategies that brought it among the rankings of the best-performing states, thousands of residents could see better health and potentially longer lives, according to The Commonwealth Fund’s report.

The Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based nonprofit health policy group, released its “Scorecard on State Health System Performance, 2014” on Wednesday.

The report assesses states on 42 indicators of health care access, quality, costs and outcomes over the 2007 to 2012 period, which includes the Great Recession and precedes the major coverage expansions of the Affordable Care Act.

The report details what impact Oklahoma would see if its health system performed more effectively in preventing and treating disease.

For example, if Oklahoma could provide the type of preventive care that Minnesota does for its residents, an estimated 168,951 more adults aged 50 and older would receive preventive care, including colon cancer screenings, mammograms and flu shots.

And if the state were to tackle tooth loss from decay or disease, 206,738 fewer residents, ages 18 to 64, would have lost six or more teeth.

Cathy Schoen, senior vice president of The Commonwealth Fund, said the issues that Oklahoma and other low-performing states face aren’t just problems for state leaders to solve.

“We need to have a broader strategy, and it will need a collaborative approach because we need to enlist our hospital leaders and our doctor leaders,” Schoen, who has worked in public health policy for more than 30 years, said. “It’s not just the state that’s acting. It’s the care system that needs to act in a strategic way.”

The study was broken down into several categories, with states ranked in each category and then also given an overall ranking.

Oklahoma was not ranked among the top five states in any category. The state ranked among the worst states in 25 of the 33 indicators.

For example, Oklahoma ranked poorly because of its high rate of uninsured adults, along with high rates of adults who went without health care because of cost, people who had high out-of-pocket medical expenses and people who were at-risk for disease who went without a doctor visit for two years.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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