How Our Neighbor’s Health Impacts Us

A Missouri Hospital Association report was released this week, drawing a stark contrast between Missouri’s counties.

Residents in Pemiscot County in southern Missouri suffer the lowest life expectancy in the state by nine fewer years than the next lowest. The Medicaid Transformation Committee met on July 31 in Pemiscot County and heard dozens of people testify on the impact on their lives from being without health insurance. There are 2,219 people in that county without insurance coverage.

I know that there are so many reasons for lower life expectancy, but delayed and denied care are certainly among them. The ability to go to the doctor to ask questions, to build a personal plan around prevention, and to have a relationship when things don’t go as planned are the basics of good health.

My farmer friends tell me that their work on soil preparation before crop season is as important as the growing season itself. In the same manner, we need to work on our preventive care and upstream approach to health. Access to care is one of those essential elements.

The report quite correctly states that, “without improvements in the overall health of Missouri’s population, the state will not realize the gains of lower cost, better quality health care or increased worker productivity.”

With that in mind, health becomes a group concern rather than an individual problem. The health of our neighbors does, in fact, impact all of us. We need to think of our neighbors in Pemiscot County, and Wyandotte County, Kan., and so many others in our approach to a healthy Midwest community.

We have so many opportunities if we are willing to take them.

Health Care

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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at


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