Teton County Named 13th Healthiest in Nation, But Inequalities Limit Community Health | The parchment of the hole


There are 3,143 counties and county equivalents (parishes, independent cities, etc.) in the United States.

Of that huge number, Teton County was ranked 13th healthiest by US News and World Report, a publication that ranks a plethora of things from colleges to mutual funds. In this latest ranking, which was recently released, the county performed well in many categories, but the numbers showed several worrying trends that are depressing community health.

The report examines many facets of community health, from actual health outcomes to socio-economic conditions that impact people’s ability to thrive, and scores them out of 100. Overall, Teton County scored 86 out of 100, good for 13th and second in Wyoming just behind Sublette County.

Los Alamos County, New Mexico, took first place for the second year in a row. Mountain West took many of the top spots, with seven of the top 10 in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, although five were in Centennial State (Colorado). Adding the two from Wyoming, nine of the top 13 were in that region.

Teton County has improved from a year ago when it was ranked 22nd healthiest. One of the most striking pieces of information is that you will likely be living in Teton County much longer than in the rest of the United States. National life expectancy is 77.5 years, but the average Teton resident lives to 89.5 years, which is 12 years longer.

In numbers, the county performed well, with most factors ranked favorably. Unsurprisingly, it scored well on factors such as the environment (92 out of 100), overall health (85), and infrastructure (90). It has performed less well in areas such as equity (57), housing (60) and public safety (53).

These good categories were carried by national parks and abundant public lands, as well as a generally strong economy.

The economic scores, however, show the difficulty of ranking counties without taking a closer look at their individual conditions. The report notes that only 6.2% of the population is below the federal poverty line, well below the national rate of 14.2%, but anyone who has had to pay rent in Teton County knows that the threshold of he economic insecurity is much higher locally than the poverty line.

As for the negatives described in the report, they follow the findings of the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment, which found people worried about housing and growing income inequality.


Julio V. Miller

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