Sickness in the 2nd District

by Leslie Layton

Butte and other counties in rural Northern California’s 2nd Congressional District suffer from higher-than-average rates of chronic diseases that would respond to prevention, and if it was more available, routine care. Our counties pay in terms of both personal health and emergency-room/hospital-care costs.

State Research Analyst Mike Kassis pointed out that access to primary/preventive care depends in part on affordability (which usually means having health insurance.) The recently-published study Kassis worked on for the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development shows that $3.5 billion was spent on “preventable hospitalizations” in the state in 2008.

The number of Californians without insurance increased in 2009 in every county; the statewide average was 24 percent, according to a study by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research. But Butte and most other counties in the 2nd Congressional District exceeded the state average.

Congressman Wally Herger’s 2nd District has some of the state’s most alarming health indicators. Here’s a sampling:

Lack of Insurance
Almost a quarter of Butte County residents were uninsured for at least some portion of 2009. In Shasta County, almost 33 percent had no insurance, the 2nd District’s highest rate.

Heart Disease
Almost 12 percent of Butte County residents said they had been diagnosed with heart disease in 2007, compared to about 7 percent in the state as a whole. In Sutter County, 15 percent of residents said they had received that diagnosis, the state’s highest rate.

Diabetes
Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties had relatively high rates of almost 10 percent, compared to an average 7 percent in the state in 2007.

Preventable Hospitalizations
Butte and Yuba counties were among the top three counties in the state for hospitalizations related to uncontrolled diabetes between 1999 and 2008.

Butte and Yuba had the highest rates in the state for hospitalizations related to pulmonary illnesses like bronchitis and emphysema.

Smoking and obesity
Butte and Tehama counties had some of the highest smoking rates in the state in 2008. In Tehama, Glenn and Colusa counties, more than 59 percent of residents were identified as overweight or obese in 2007, well above the 51 percent state average.

Sources: Center for Health Policy Research, Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, California Department of Public Health.

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