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Quality Update - Health care quality issues for Minnesota's health care leaders

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Looking at the numbers: Minnesota’s State of
Health Care Quality

Graph of premature deaths

Minnesota is often named one of the best places to live in the United States. In terms of quality of life, the state frequently shines among the top three best performing states and wins many other top rankings. Some of the titles L’Étoile du Nord has won include best state for women, happiest state in the U.S., and least stressed state in the country.

It’s no wonder Minnesota often rates near the top in health and health care measures as well. Our home state has been consistently ranked among the top 10 states for measures of health and health care quality by several national organizations.

With such high quality of life and overall good health, Minnesotans’ average life expectancy is rated fourth highest in the country. According to a recent study, life expectancy at birth for Minnesotans is currently at 80.8 years, compared to 78.9 years nationally. Healthy life expectancy at birth, which accounts for poor health caused by disability or mortality, in Minnesota is the highest in the nation at 70.3 years, an increase from 67.9 years in 1990.

As is often the case, such aggregate or overall performance measures only tell part of the story—the story of the majority. Minnesota’s dossier showing strong performance relative to other states does not necessarily mean all Minnesotans experience this same quality.

Length of life data illustrate staggering disparities for Minnesotans of color, who are far more likely to experience premature death—dying before the average age of death, 75 years in the U.S.

Minnesotans as a whole have a lower number of years of potential life lost compared to the nation. Blacks and American Indians in the state have a notably higher number of years of potential life lost compared to whites (4,789 years per 100,000 population). Blacks lose more than twice as many years (8,192) and American Indians lose nearly four times as many years (18,864) per 100,000 population than whites.

Findings from a Minnesota Department of Health study released in May echo this data, noting a link in Minnesota between health care, poverty, race and premature death.

While Minnesota may rank as the “happiest state in the U.S.,” can we really be happy unless we are working to make life better for all Minnesotans?