New comprehensive report shows the reality of North Carolinians’ health

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — A new comprehensive report from UnitedHealthcare is showing the health rankings of all 50 states. It maps out what each state is doing well and areas they could improve in.

It’s called America’s Health Rankings Annual Report and for the first time, we are now starting to see some of those early pandemic statistics. We spoke with UnitedHealthcare of North Carolina’s Chief Medical Officer, and she helped express some of the improvements the state can make.

“If you understand at a state level where the opportunities are and then can come together as a community,” said Dr. Michelle Bucknor, UHC of NC’s chief medical officer.

It’s a solution many medical professionals are working towards to bring up the health status of Americans. The report shows where some of those opportunities can be found.

If you would like a full look at the report and the state’s rankings, click here.

“It’s really looking at social factors and healthcare factors to understand where there are barriers and the hope is to bring this to the attention of the overall community so we can work together with interventions that will improve people’s health,” Bucknor said.

Bucknor says whether it be race, age, income, education or any other socioeconomic factor, our state needs to improve.

“Disparities exist due to race in North Carolina,” said Bucknor. “When you bring up the health of people that have the worst outcomes, you’ll actually improve the health of all.”

Bucknor said there have also been barriers built up, causing adults to avoid care. However, that figure has decreased. Adults who avoided care due to cost decreased 28% from 15.9% to 11.5% between 2019 and 2020.

“Where there’s a barrier to receiving healthcare access there’s going to be people that avoid care,” Bucknor said.

So what does all of this mean for Eastern North Carolina?

“While Eastern North Carolina as a whole may have significant impacts and significant disparities and rates, the thing you have to realize is that’s rural America,” said Bucknor.

Bucknor notes that by addressing some of the disparities and inequities in the eastern part of our state, it can benefit the bigger picture.

“Look at where the greatest opportunities are that seem to have the greatest impact on health. We spend a lot of time on food insecurity but if you look at where we perform low you can see where food insecurity specifically could improve those outcomes,” said Bucknor.

Bucknor also mentions the rate of cancer went down, however on the flip side, so did screenings, so the worry is there may be an increased rate of people with undetected or undiagnosed cancer.

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