Special Report

The Least Healthy County in Each State

Costilla County, Colo.
> Pct. without health insurance:
28.0%
> Pct. food insecure: 14.7%
> Obesity rate: 21.5%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 12.2%

Costilla County had some of the worst access to medical care in the country, with no primary care physicians or dentists and just one mental health provider,. At the same time, about 28% of county residents had no health insurance, much higher than the almost 17% of residents in the state without insurance. The county’s teen birth rate of 48.2 births per 1,000 female teen residents was higher than both the statewide rate and the national rate. About 22% of county residents rated their health to be fair or poor, far higher than the 12.8% statewide rate.

New Haven County, Conn.
> Pct. without health insurance:
11.2%
> Pct. food insecure: 14.4%
> Obesity rate: 26.9%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 8.6%

Although it is the home of Yale-New Haven Hospital, one of the nation’s top-rated medical facilities, New Haven County ranked lowest for overall health among Connecticut’s counties. But the county’s ranking within the state might simply reflect the fact that one of the state’s eight counties had to be last. While New Haven County’s factors were not as good as the state’s, they were, by and large, better than the nation’s. As an example, the county recorded more years of potential life lost per 100,000 residents annually than the state did, but less than the national figure. Similarly, 12.4% of county residents rated their health fair or poor. This was higher than the 10.8% of state residents, but lower than the 16.0% of national residents who said the same. Examining healthy behaviors yields similar results — the county’s smoking and obesity rates were higher than the state’s rates but lower than the national rates.

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Kent County, Del.
> Pct. without health insurance:
9.8%
> Pct. food insecure: 12.8%
> Obesity rate: 32.7%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 6.9%

Kent County ranked as the least healthy county in Delaware. The county’s obesity, smoking and physical inactivity rates were all higher than both the state and national rates. When asked to rate their lives excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor, nearly 15% of county residents replied fair or poor, higher than the 12.4% of Delaware residents or the 16.0% of Americans.

Putnam County, Fla.
> Pct. without health insurance:
23.7%
> Pct. food insecure: 19.3%
> Obesity rate: 33.1%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 9.4%

About 27% of residents of Putnam County considered their health to be fair or poor. Just over half that share of the state population rated their health the same way. The county’s obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity rates all exceeded the state’s rates. The county had one primary care physician for every 2,818 residents, almost half the state ratio of one primary care physician for every 1,423 residents. The poor health habits and dearth of medical care were not without consequences. The 11,232 years of life lost per 100,000 Putnam residents due to premature death far exceeded the years of life lost in Florida at 6,893, which was roughly inline with the national estimate.

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Taliaferro County, Ga.
> Pct. without health insurance:
24.5%
> Pct. food insecure: 23.2%
> Obesity rate: 35.0%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 9.0%

Taliaferro County had no doctors, dentists, or mental health providers, a factor that contributed to its standing as the least healthy county in Georgia. In addition to a relatively high obesity rate, Taliaferro County had about 72 teen births per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19. Almost a quarter of the county’s residents had no health insurance compared with 17% nationwide. More than 23% of county households had limited access to food, higher than the 18.9% households across the state identified as food insecure, which was third highest compared to all states.