CDC Releases State-by-State Healthy Life Expectancy Estimates

Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released the government’s first state-by-state look at how long 65 year-old Americans can expect to live and how many of those remaining years will be healthy ones.

Healthy life expectancy (HLE) is the average number of years that a person expects to live in “full health” by taking into account years lived in less than full health due to disease and/or injury, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). HLE estimates are used for predicting future health service needs, evaluating health programs, and identifying trends and inequalities. Very few studies report HLE on the state level. CDC put together a chart for all 50 states and District of Columbia which includes HLE and life expectancy (LE) estimates by sex and race.

The results indicate that in the period from 2007 to 2009, females, on average, have a higher HLE after 65 years of age than males do in every state and the D.C. area. The white population had a higher HLE than the black population in D.C. and every state, with the exception of Nevada and New Mexico for which there was no data. HLE estimates were not available for other races due to the small sample size and/or lack of reliable data at the state level.

For the total population, HLE estimates were the worst for the southern states. The lowest HLE was observed in Mississippi at 10.8 years, while West Virginia had the lowest LE at 17.5 years. Hawaii has both the highest life expectancy at 21.3 years and healthy life expectancy at 16.2 years in the United States. Healthy life expectancy as a percentage of life expectancy ranged from 61.5 percent in Mississippi to 78.2 percent in Vermont. CDC states that examining HLE as a percentage of LE reveals populations that might be enduring illness or disability for more years. 

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