November 23, 2016

A healthy Kansas economy starts with healthy Kansans, but without strong investments in the services and programs that ensure citizens can thrive, the state’s overall well-being will decline. A new report from the Kansas Center of Economic Growth examines the health, economic, and social foundation of the state and the region. The Kansas “Health and Prosperity Index”report analyzes 39 indicators of the social determinants of health across four categories: education, employment, and earnings; social and community context; health infrastructure and risk behaviors; and health outcomes. Overall, Kansas’ performance is mediocre, receiving average scores in each key area. Compared to the six-state region, Kansas ranks 4th in its overall score.

“The report reveals that Kansans already face significant barriers to health,” said KCEG Executive Director Heidi Holliday. “Without additional investments in our schools, communities, health care, and safety net, we expect a further decline in Kansas’ rankings.”

Critical areas of improvement include:

  • Education, employment, and earnings: In personal income and job growth, Kansas ranks last and second-to-last in the region, respectively. Kansas’ median household income is fifth out of the seven states.
  • Social and community context: 42 percent of people spend almost one-third of their income on rent and utilities, hampering Kansans’ ability to be financially secure.
  • Health infrastructure and risk behaviors: In areas with a shortage of mental health practitioners, Kansas ranks second worst in the region.
  • Health outcomes: Kansas was one of only two states in the country to see an increase in its obesity rate.

Overall, KCEG’s policy recommendations include a call for comprehensive tax reform, as well as KanCare expansion.

Read more from the McPherson Sentinel here.

Lisa OwenMCPHERSON SENTINEL: Kansas falls flat on overall health