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Community health rankings find major disparities based on location, economy

New data published Monday found major geographic disparities in community health, across 10 health-related categories like food and nutrition, environment, equity, and public safety. County rankings, compiled by U.S. News & World Report, compared nearly 3,000 counties to determine how community health is affected by factors like housing and the local economy.

"Population health" was an important component in the rankings, factoring in access to health care and prevalence of health conditions. Counties in Minnesota, California, Iowa, and Colorado were top-ranked in population health, while counties in Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, and Florida were lowest.

Meanwhile, many counties near Silicon Valley ranked poorly in equity, defined as income and social equality across demographic groups. Colorado dominated the top of the environmental rankings, while New York and California counties scored poorly in housing availability. Counties in Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Massachusetts were ranked highest overall.

The scores, between 0 and 100, showed that community health varies greatly based on location. But across the board, Americans are worried about access to health care. A Gallup poll published Monday shows that the availability and affordability of health care troubles 55 percent of Americans "a great deal," while 23 percent of those polled say it worries them "a fair amount." Only 23 percent say the issue concerns them "only a little" or "not at all." Other issues of concern to the Americans polled included "crime and violence" and "the economy," but Gallup reports that this is the fifth year in a row that health care has been the number one concern.

See the full rankings at U.S. News & World Report.