The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released its annual health rankings and the report shows that residents of the wealthier counties in Kansas score far better than those in poor counties. The study measures premature death rates, quality of life, health habits, and access to health care. Johnson County is among the wealthiest counties and also among the healthiest. Labette County in the southeast corner of the state has the worst health outcomes in Kansas. Heather Morgan, with the anti-poverty group Project 17, says gaps in insurance coverage are a major factor in the health of that county’s residents.
Poverty, unemployment and unbalanced diets also lead to health problems in many of the state’s low-income counties. Wyandotte is the second-least healthy county in the state, but Gianfranco Pezzino, with the Kansas Health Institute, says there is some good news for Wyandotte: the numbers of premature deaths and teen births are falling.
The report says health outcomes generally improve when communities are better educated and poverty rates go down.
Find the 2017 county-by-county health rankings for Kansas by clicking here.