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By Mark Moran - Producer-Editor, Contact - News


Big Sky Connection - A new comprehensive health report shows Montana ranks just about in the middle among the states in terms of overall health. The United Health Foundation, in partnership with the American Public Health Association, found eight chronic conditions are on the rise nationwide, with alcohol consumption especially concerning in the state. Comments from Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare.

Click on the image above for the audio. The number of mental healthcare providers in Montana increased 36%, from 282.7 to 385.1 per 100,000 people, according to the United Health Foundation report. (Adobe stock)

Mark Moran

January 11, 2024 - New data from the United Health Foundation show a handful of significant and chronic health conditions on the rise across the U.S.

But there is some good news, including in Montana.

Montanans show a high rate of high school completion, report that they're getting sufficient sleep, and have a low hospitalization rate for preventable illnesses.

But the report says eight chronic conditions are on the rise nationally. They include asthma, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, diabetes and arthritis.

The latter rose 12% in Montana. Dr. Rhonda Randall is UnitedHealthcare's chief medical officer.

"These are generally conditions that can be well controlled, with the appropriate lifestyle modifications and treatment from your physician," said Randall. "But generally, these are conditions that someone will live with long term."

The state also reported a high rate of "excessive drinking" in Montana, a 14% increase in premature deaths, a low rate of dedicated in-home care providers, and one of the nation's highest teen suicide rates.

If you or a loved one are in crisis, please call 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

The report indicates the number of mental healthcare providers in Montana was up by more than a third, following a national trend. Randall called this one of several positive pieces of news in the data.

"The number of mental health professionals in our country increased 7%," said Randall. "The number of dental professionals increased 7%. The percentage of uninsured decreased 7%. Occupational fatalities went down. Smoking is now the lowest it's been."

Montana ranked first nationally in the number of residents protected by no-smoking regulations and also showed a sharp increase in the number of primary care and dental health providers.

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