This week, we’re pleased to introduce updated county profile factsheets. Our hope is that you’ll find them to be a useful resource for better understanding the needs in your community and advocating for programs and policies that can improve health and social conditions around the state. The factsheets focus on data related to health and human services around the state, and are available for each of Ohio’s 88 counties here.
What’s New This Year?
If you’ve used our county profiles in the past, you may notice some changes in content to this year’s factsheets. With the release of our strategic plan earlier this year, we wanted to focus the data in the factsheets on the issues that are priorities for Community Solutions (Read more about our policy priorities here).
We’ve added a number of health indicators which highlight the importance of improving maternal and infant health, improving access to behavioral health services, and adolescent reproductive health education. We’ve also provided additional data on Ohio’s health and human services safety net; the sharp decrease in cash assistance recipients around the state, and the ebbs and flows of SNAP recipients, point to the importance of preserving these programs for the many Ohioans who struggle to make ends meet.
As the baby boomer generation ages, Ohio is facing a significant demographic shift. According to projections from Scripps Gerontology Center, by 2030, older adults will comprise 23 percent of the state’s population, compared to only 14 percent in 2010. In half of Ohio’s counties, older adults are expected to outnumber children by 2030, if not sooner. This shift means that service providers, government, and the business community will need to be prepared to serve this population as they age.
Medicaid Extension Remains a Steady Support
When Ohio expanded Medicaid, it extended important health benefits to people in need who were lacking health coverage. Over 677,000 Ohioans now have coverage through Medicaid extension, and as more time passes, we can expect to see this reflected in the uninsured rate. In order to ensure access to vital healthcare services for all Ohioans, it is important to preserve this program in the years to come. Read more about the widespread benefits of the Affordable Care Act and Ohio’s Medicaid extension here.
Wide Health Disparities Exist Around the State
Research has shown that place matters when it comes to health outcomes. Our fact sheets reveal that wide health disparities exist in Ohio. For instance, while teen birth rates overall have declined in recent years, not all counties share in the decline equally. Delaware and Geauga Counties both have teen birth rates below 8 per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19, while 17 counties have rates over 35 per 1,000, and Pike County has a rate of 60 per 1,000. Infant mortality rates in some parts of Ohio are staggering; Cuyahoga, Adams, Jefferson, Brown, Lawrence, Hamilton, and Pike counties all have infant mortality rates of 10 to 11 deaths per 1,000 live births, while the state average is 8 per 1,000, and several counties have rates below 5 per 1,000.
Income is not Keeping Pace with Inflation
The vast majority of counties have seen their inflation-adjusted median incomes decline over the past decade, though the declines have been steeper in some counties than others. There are also wide income disparities across the state; Athens and Adams Counties, for instance, have median household incomes of less than $35,000 per year, while Geauga, Warren, and Delaware Counties have median household incomes of over $70,000 per year (Delaware’s median income is nearly $92,000).
Poverty is a Struggle for Many Ohioans
Nearly 1.8 million Ohioans live in poverty. Almost one out of every four children lives in poverty. And many more live near poverty, struggling to make ends meet. The factsheets show that poverty is not merely a city problem; while counties with big cities (like Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Franklin, and Lucas) do have high poverty rates, in many rural counties (like Highland, Vinton, Meigs, Jackson, Pike, Scioto, and Athens), at least 1 in 5 people are living in poverty.
Cash Assistance is not Meeting the Needs of Ohioans
The factsheets show that cash assistance benefits have plummeted around the state over the past six years, and the number of children who received Ohio Works First (OWF) benefits between 2010 and 2014 is less than half of the number of children in deep poverty around the state. Ohio should ensure that its most vulnerable – children living in deep poverty- get the assistance they desperately need. To read more about the decline in OWF benefits, click here.
Thank you for taking the time to review our updated factsheets. Feel free to contact me with questions or comments at KWarren@CommunitySolutions.com.
 The factsheets use 5-year estimates to report the uninsured rate, meaning that pre-expansion years are included in the estimate. The 1-year estimates, which are not available for all 88 counties due to small population sizes, have already begun to reflect the results of this policy change. Read more here.