Opioid crisis hurting N.J.’s health ranking, report says

New Jersey’s inability to handle its opioid problem is among the reasons why the state slipped from 9th-healthiest state in the nation in 2015 to ranking 12th for 2016, according to UnitedHealthcare’s annual report.

“For the first time, the report looked at the concentration of mental health providers and found wide variation throughout the country. New Jersey ranked No. 31, with less than 200 mental health providers per 100,000 population, compared to New York, who came in at No. 17, and Massachusetts, which had the highest concentration, with nearly 550 mental health care providers,” according to a statement from United on Tuesday.

In the past 10 years, as with other parts of the country, New Jersey saw drug deaths climb.

The increase was 83 percent, from eight per 100,000 to 15 per 100,000 over a 10-year period.

But New Jersey ranks No. 24 overall in the country for drug deaths.

New Jersey ranked low for public health funding, spending only $65 per person and ranking 39th among all states.

It is in the middle of the pack for its 8.4 percent uninsured rate, ranked at No. 25.

When it comes to behaviors that employers are increasingly taking action on — smoking and physical inactivity — the state is a mixed bag.

In smoking, the state is among the Top 10, meaning it has a low prevalence of smoking. The insurer anticipates raising the smoking age to 21 this year will impact the state’s ranking next year.

But for physical inactivity, the struggle remains real.

“Among adults, physical inactivity continues to be a challenge for New Jersey. Compared to 2016, the percentage of adults who reported doing no physical activity or exercise other than their regular job in the past 30 days increased to nearly 30 percent, bringing the state to a ranking of No. 46,” United said.

In the past 15 years, the state has also seen a decrease in violent crimes, from 384 to 245 offenses per 100,000 people.

The area where New Jersey ranks No. 1 is for the number of dentists it has per 100,000 people.

For more on the report, click here.