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WA Ranks "Unlucky 13th" in National Healthcare Survey

June 19, 2007

New York, NY/Seattle, WA - Washington ranks number 13 in a new survey by state of how healthy our citizens are, and a major reason a dozen states are ahead of us is lack of preventive care. Just 42 percent of adults over age 50 get the recommended health screenings for their age group, and only 60 percent of Washington children get annual medical and dental check-ups. The results don't surprise Dr. Bob Crittenden, who is a family practitioner in Seattle. He says only about one-third of families have health insurance that covers preventive care.

“If you don't have money, the waiting line is very long for all these things. Two-thirds of the people, who are uninsured or have poor insurance -- almost all working people and their families -- don't have the money to pay for these, so they bypass them.”

Crittenden heads The Herndon Alliance, a national coalition working for health care reform.

He adds that the other problem is that finding a family doctor nowadays is tough. He explains that the health care system rewards doctors who specialize and perform surgeries.

“For instance, if you do procedures, you get paid about four times the amount per hour than you do if you just take care of sick people. You do preventive care, you get paid the same amount as taking care of sick people or a little less.

The new survey, by the Commonwealth Fund, ranked health care access and quality, and tracked hospital visits that could have been avoided with preventive care. The state that came out on top is Minnesota.

Survey results by the Commonwealth Fund are available online at

Chris Thomas/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - WA