Study: Health Care Reform Brings Modest Improvement To Community Well-Being

Persistent Problems Like Obesity, Smoking Remain

Maureen McCollum/WPR

The health of most communities has improved since the Affordable Care Act although modestly in many cases, according to a national study by the Commonwealth Fund.

The improvements largely come from more people becoming insured. But the gains in access and prevention were sometimes outweighed by a person’s physical health. A number of communities saw declining or stagnant physical health on measures like obesity and smoking, according to David Radley, of the Commonwealth Fund.

“Most communities actually stayed the same or changed very little on a lot of performance measures,” he said. “There’s a long way to go. There’s opportunities for improvement looking across the board.”

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The report examined the health of 306 communities between 2011 and 2014. There’s still wide variation in the health of various communities, as well as within communities, Radley said.

Milwaukee, for example, ranked relatively high in access for signing so many people up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, even getting recognition from President Barack Obama.

But the city, like others, performed lower on health measures like obesity and smoking.