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Report: Michigan is older and sicker, and that spells trouble for future

  • The average Michigan resident is sicker and dies about a year earlier than the average U.S. resident, a new report shows

  • The state now ranks 39th in health measures

  • The paper compiles data to draw a bleak picture of Michigan’s current well-being and map out a path to better health

Michigan’s population is less healthy than the national average and losing ground, now ranking 39th in U.S. health measures, according to a grim new report. Long struggling with high disease rates and health disparities, the state now fares poorly compared with most other states on multiple measures, including life expectancy, premature death and disease prevalence, according to the report, released Thursday, by the Lansing-based Citizens Research Council, which focuses on Michigan public policy, and Altarum, a Michigan-based nonprofit focusing on health.

In the 25-page report, the authors raked together dozens of health data points about the state’s health and well-being, building on previous concerns that Michigan is older, unhealthier and wracked by health disparities that dramatically sharpen the risk for the state’s poor communities, rural residents and residents of color. Drawing from research in the annual America’s Health Rankings report, for example, the Michigan-focused paper ranked Michigan 39th of 50 states in overall health, tumbling from 32nd of 50 states in 2008. All that spells trouble for Michigan’s economy, future workforce and for the health care challenges facing the state’s older residents, including their ability to remain in their homes as they age. The state’s faltering health is as troubling as its lagging population, said Corey Rhyan, research director with the Health Economics Policy Team at Altarum. “It's also about how healthy (residents) are and how well they can contribute to the workforce as employees and how well (their) children (do) in the education system,” Rhyan said. “Health is such a critical factor in not only the people that we have, but the capacity and the capability of the state as a whole.”

Eric Lupher, president of the Lansing-based Citizens Research Council, said the numbers speak to the state’s “quality of life, about keeping people here and attracting people here.”

The report was funded, in part, by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Hudson-Webber Foundation, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, Michigan Health Endowment Fund, The Joyce Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, and the Ballmer Group.

(Disclosure: The Mott, Kresge, Wilson, Hudson-Webber, Kellogg, Joyce, Skillman and Grand Rapids Community foundations and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund are financial supporters of the Center for Michigan, Bridge Michigan’s nonprofit parent. Funders play no role in Bridge’s journalism.)

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