There are few issues of greater importance in the public policy arena than those dealing with health care. According to the Kaiser Foundation, “Expenditures in the United States on health care surpassed $2.3 trillion in 2008, more than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990 . . . In 2008, U.S. health care spending was about $7,681 per resident and accounted for 16.2% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP); this is among the highest of all industrialized countries.” It is also true that measuring the overall health of a community is challenging because there are so many dimensions to this indicator of well-being.
The data indicate a mixed bag in terms of the health status of the counties in the St Croix Valley. A majority of the counties have lower percentages of their populations who report not having health insurance than is true for their respective state. On the other hand, infant mortality rates are higher than the state average in more than half the counties and all the counties have slightly higher rates of adult obesity than their respective states.