Isle ‘deaths of de­spair’ among low­est in na­tion

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - HAWAII REPORT - Kris­ten Con­sil­lio kcon­sil­lio@starad­ver­

Hawaii has among the low­est num­ber of deaths per capita from sui­cides, al­co­hol and drug use, but is among the worst in the na­tion for men­tal health treat­ment, a new re­port shows.

The lat­est state health care score­card by the Com­mon­wealth Fund found that 64 per­cent of Hawaii adults be­tween 2013 and 2015 and 23 per­cent of chil­dren with men­tal ill­ness in 2016 did not re­ceive treat­ment. Na­tion­ally, 41 per­cent to 66 per­cent of adults with men­tal health prob­lems went un­treated, while up to one-third of chil­dren did not get help.

“This is an in­di­ca­tor where no state in the coun­try does well. We have a national need to im­prove men­tal health treat­ment,” said Dou­glas McCarthy, se­nior re­search di­rec­tor at the Com­mon­wealth Fund.

For so-called deaths of de­spair — from sui­cide, al­co­hol and drug use — Hawaii ranked sec­ond-best in the na­tion at a rate of 31.2 per 100,000 res­i­dents in 2016, a slight in­crease from 28.4 in 2013, even while the rate of sui­cides nearly dou­bled across the coun­try be­tween 2005 and 2016.

For the first time in years, pre­ma­ture deaths be­fore age 75 are climb­ing, with the state mor­tal­ity rate up to 76.1 from 75.3 per 100,000 peo­ple.

“There’s upticks in mor­tal­ity … or pre­ma­ture deaths in many states. Two-thirds of states have an uptick. In the past, rates have been de­clin­ing. This is first time we’re no longer im­prov­ing on this mea­sure. It’s con­cern­ing that the im­prove­ment we have been see­ing for many years has come to an end,” McCarthy said.

In­fant mor­tal­ity is also on the rise, in­creas­ing to a rate of

5.7 from 4.9 deaths per 1,000 births, while na­tion­ally the rate has been im­prov­ing.

Hawaii health care over­all ranked No. 1 among the states for ac­cess and af­ford­abil­ity, cost and dis­par­i­ties. The ar­eas of most im­prove­ment in­clude re­duc­ing high-risk drug use among those on Medi­care, the govern­ment health in­surance pro­gram for se­niors. The state also has the low­est Medi­care spend­ing per ben­e­fi­ciary.

In ad­di­tion, it has the third-low­est cost for em­ployer health in­surance and ranks No. 1 for em­ployee health in­surance con­tri­bu­tions as a share of me­dian in­come.

“It’s very en­cour­ag­ing how well Hawaii does in the mea­sure of ac­cess to care, which stems from a his­tor­i­cal policy in Hawaii where they have pro­vided health care cov­er­age to em­ployed in­di­vid­u­als,” McCarthy said. “Hawaii also does very well in keep­ing pa­tients out of the hos­pi­tal when it isn’t nec­es­sary. Costs are very low in Hawaii as well com­pared to other states.”

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