Report: Health and healthcare are important economic components in the region

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July 18 – WILKES-BARRE – The Indicator Report for 2021 shows that health and healthcare are an important part of any region – not just because of health status – but also because of the impact of health on the economy.

Teri Ooms, CEO at The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development at the Wilkes University, said cancer death rate is an indicator influenced by behavior – such as smoking, which is known to cause various types of cancer – and health care (cancer death rates decrease as access to the latest treatments improves).

“Demographics also make these statistics difficult,” Ooms said. “Cancer, for example, is more common in the elderly. While cancer mortality rates are in Lackawanna and Lucerne Counties in recent years, the average annual number of deaths in both counties from 2011 to 2019 is above the national average.

The reports show that the age-adjusted death rate from heart disease – another leading cause of death in the US – is similarly influenced by health-related behaviors and access to health care. Ooms said the death rate from heart disease was lower in 2019 than it was in 2011, in both the counties and the United States Pennsylvania.

“Although the number of deaths from heart disease is in Lackawanna and Lucerne Counties in 2019 after an increase in the previous two years, the rate in both counties is significantly higher than in the Commonwealth as a whole, “said Ooms.

The report also shows that positive test results for elevated lead levels in childhood, as seen in screenings of children under 72 months of age, are more common in Lackawanna County than in Lucerne district and Pennsylvania as a whole.

Screening for lead exposure in childhood is not mandatory. Test rates in Lucerne district followed national trends, with nearly 20 percent of children in this age group being tested in 2019 Lackawanna County At 16 percent in 2019, it consistently lagged behind the nationwide rate.

Personal behavior affects many health conditions, including but not limited to heart disease and cancer, Ooms said.

“It’s extremely important to choose a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “However, healthy eating can be expensive and access to healthy foods can be limited.”

Ooms said at a time when many of the area’s low- or middle-income residents are living, making healthy choices isn’t always a top priority. Problems of social determinants and the existence of food deserts in the region also complicate efforts to improve the health of the population.

The obesity rate among adults has been around 30 percent regionally and nationally in recent years. For two important health-related behaviors, this area has outperformed the state as a whole in recent years.

Cigarette smoking has become more common in Germany Lackawanna and Lucerne Counties as in Pennsylvania, and the excessive drinking rate has exceeded national levels in recent years.

The report also shows that drug overdose deaths fell in both counties in 2019 and are lower compared to 2015 rates, while the nationwide drug overdose death rate rose by a third during that time. The number of opioid prescriptions has decreased annually in all three regions. Fentanyl is a major contributor to persistent drug overdose deaths.

“The prevalence of these high-risk behaviors is a significant public health concern,” Ooms said.

Health insurance coverage for residents improved between 2010 and 2019, although insurance rates have stabilized or decreased slightly in recent years. In 2019, a significantly larger proportion of people were insured than in 2010, which is mainly due to the increase in the number of people with statutory health insurance.

“There has indeed been a sharp increase in statutory health insurance regionally, while the percentage of the population covered by private health insurance has slowly declined regionally and nationally,” Ooms said. “Enrollment in federal market plans has continued to decline in both counties and in Germany Pennsylvania a total of.”

Finally, Ooms said the cost of health care was a major concern. Although Lackawanna and Lucerne There are several health resources in the counties and the number of beds available in hospitals has not decreased significantly and costs could make access difficult for the under or uninsured.

Between 2013 and 2019, for example, the daily room rate in private hospitals rose by 52 percent Lackawanna County and by 62 percent in Lucerne district. Between 2018 and 2019 alone, the room rate rose by 17 percent in Lackawanna County.

The semi-private daily rate for nursing homes has also increased by three percent Lackawanna County and at least 17 percent in Lucerne district and nationwide.

There are more nursing home beds per 1,000 seniors in both counties compared to the statewide rate.

However, Ooms said the number of beds is lower regionally and nationwide compared to rates in 2016-2017 as the senior population continues to grow and life expectancy demand for long-term care will increase.

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(c) 2021 The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania)

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