Health 2017-11-15T22:45:46+00:00


Individual and community health is important for a thriving society. Socioeconomic status, access to preventive health care, environmental factors, lifestyle choices, genetics, educational attainment, and other indicators contribute to outcomes.

Evidence suggests that having a regular source of care produces better health outcomes, reduced disparities, and reduced costs. For instance, immunizations are among the most successful and cost-effective preventive health care interventions, helping children avoid contracting numerous serious and potentially fatal infectious diseases.

The infant mortality rate measures deaths of babies before their first birthday. Infant mortality is associated with factors, such as maternal health, quality of and access to medical care, and public health practices.

Data for this indicator was obtained from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 1-year estimates. Data was summed across the three counties to obtain the NSJV total insured residents. The number of insured residents was then divided by the total residents to obtain the percent insured.

This graph shows the percent of United States, California, and the NSJV that has health insurance. This can be either private, public, or employer provided health insurance. Historically the percent of the population with health insurance has hovered around 85% for the United States, with rates in California and the NSJV closer to 82%. By 2014 the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required that all Americans have health insurance, or pay a penalty. The result was a drastic increase in health coverage, the largest increase being seen in the NSJV which increased from 81.5% coverage to 88.5% coverage in one year. Coverage increased further in 2015 to over 92% in the NSJV, 91% coverage in California, and 90% coverage in the United States.

Data for this indicator was obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Wonder Database, and the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year estimates. Within the Wonder Database, mortality was queried from the detailed mortality table for deaths occurring to people less than 1 year old. Deaths were then divided by the population obtained from the ACS.

This graph shows the number of deaths among infants per 1,000 live births. Infants are generally assumed to be children under the age of one. Infant mortality rates have been decreasing in California since 1999 and in the NSJV since 2002. The infant mortality rate in the NSJV has consistently been higher than the rate in California. The difference peaked in 2002 when there was a three year spike in infant mortality in the NSJV, although the difference has been narrowing in recent years. Continued advances in medical care, and easier access to health insurance are contributing factors to the decrease in infant mortality.

Data for this indicator was obtained from the California Department of Health and Human Services. A weighted average of data was taken from the three counties to arrive at the NSJV value.

This graph shows the percent of kindergarten students that are up to date with their vaccines for California, the NSJV, and its component counties. The NSJV and all of its counties have kindergarten vaccine rates higher than California as a whole. Rates for all areas remained relatively stable from the 2007-08 school year until 2014-15. The exceptions to this is the slight decrease in the California vaccine rate from 92% to slightly over 90% and the temporary volatility in the Merced County vaccine rate. All areas examined experienced a jump in the vaccine rate between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. A possible explanation for this increase is SB 277 which requires every child be fully vaccinated to attend K-12 schools in California. Although the law did not take affect until July 1st 2016, it was signed in June 2015 and some parents may have chosen to get their children vaccinated early.

Data for this indicator was obtained from

Walkable communities can promote health and increased walking can reduce traffic congestion, pollution, wear and tear on roads, among other things. Walkability is measured on a scale from 0-100 based on walking routes to destinations such as grocery stores, schools, parks, restaurants, and retail. This graph shows community walkability for available NSJV cities in 2015 and 2016. All communities in the NSJV currently are rated in the “car-dependent: most errands require a car” category by Walk Score. This corresponds to communities with walk score rating from 25 to 49. While the Walk Score index may not fully reflect these communities’ walkability, or lack there of, improvement seen across these NSJV communities suggests concerted efforts across the NSJV to enhance walkability.

Data for this indicator was obtained from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

This graph shows life expectancy in years by gender for the United States and the NSJV component counties. Life expectancy in the NSJV is slightly below life expectancy in the United States in all counties except for Merced County. In all geographies female life expectancy is longer than male life expectancy by approximately 5 years. Life expectancy has increased by about two years for women in the United States since 2010, and by 1.5 years for men in the United States. Life expectancy for women in the NSJV has increased by approximately half a year, with no change for men.

Data for this indicator was obtained from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program.

This graph shows the number of residents per primary care physician in the NSJV counties. Merced County has the highest number of residents per primary care physician (a lower number is preferable). This means that each doctor needs to see 2,040 patients for every person to see a primary care doctor. Although this number is high, it has been decreasing for each county since 2013 with the highest decrease seen in Merced County. Nationally, there are approximately 1,243 residents per primary care physician, so the NSJV is still underserved in terms of doctors.

Data for this indicator was obtained from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program.

This graph shows the percent of adults who drink alcohol excessively in California and the NSJV counties. Excessive drinking is defined as consuming more than 4 (women) or 5 (men) drinks on a single occasion in the past 30 days. Drinking excessively can lead to permanent liver damage and other medical conditions, and is generally seen as socially unacceptable. Merced County has fewer residents who drink excessively than the rest of the NSJV or California. Rates have remained relatively flat since 2011.

Data for this indicator was obtained from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program.

This graph shows the percent of adults who smoke cigarettes every day, or most days and have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime in California and the NSJV counties. Smoking is a leading cause of cancer, and can lead to other negative health outcomes as well. Like drinking excessively, the percent of adults who smoke in the NSJV has remained fairly steady since 2011, although they have decreased slightly in all geographies. Decreased smoking rates can lead to decreased health costs and better air quality.