San Rafael, CA –The health of Marin County’s residents is best in the state according to the recently released 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report. The rankings, produced annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, confirm the critical role that factors such as education, jobs, income, and environment play in how healthy people are and what will impact their health and longevity in the future.
In the new rankings, Marin was No. 1 in health factors and health outcomes among California’s 58 counties. It was the 11th time in 12 years that Marin as been ranked No. 1.
Marin continues to be a top performer in the state and country in the categories of length of life, quality of life, and clinical care. It was No. 2 in health behaviors and No. 3 in social and economic factors.
The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report also reveals that all counties have areas where they can improve. Marin has one of the worst scores in income inequality (53rd out of 58 counties) and received low grades in housing affordability (26th).
“The rankings echo what we’ve seen in the pandemic: as a county, we’re doing well overall, but our weakness is inequities within Marin.” said Dr Matt Willis, County Public Health Officer. “COVID 19 has deepened differences between groups, and those differences fall along lines of race and income. That’s the work ahead of us as a community, through the pandemic and beyond. When all are able to thrive, that will be real cause for celebration.”
While the County Health Rankings & Roadmap report does not measure COVID-19 cases nor rank risk of the virus spreading in communities, the rankings are helpful in providing local context on factors that impact health. There are differences in health by location and race, due to a legacy of American policies, practices, and systems that favor some groups and disadvantage others, as highlighted in a personal message from Dr. Willis earlier in the pandemic.
The rankings show clear racial disparities in health in Marin. While Marin ranks first in clinical care, these benefits differ among racial groups. For example, mammography rates for African American women are less than half of the rates among white women. These results further inform and reinforce the County’s prioritization of and commitment to advancing racial equity across all its departments and services so that all residents in Marin may flourish.
Another concerning statistic in the study was accidental injury death rates. The leading cause of accidental death in Marin County remains drug overdose, followed by motor vehicle accidents. This is consistent with a chronic pattern of high rates of substance use in Marin. Marin also scores poorly for alcohol-impaired driving deaths (35th), and excessive drinking (48th).
To develop the Rankings, researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health or “health outcomes” by county: the rate of people dying before age 75; the percentage of people who reported being in fair or poor health; the number of days in poor mental health; and the rate of low-birthweight infants. Researchers then looked at factors that affect people’s health within four categories: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. Each year the foundation changes the factors evaluated in the rankings to match emerging public health issues.
Visit www.MarinHHS.org for more information or review Marin’s ranking in more detail at CountyHealthRankings.org.