The theory behind the total is that obesity is a rough guide for the level of unhealthiness in the population. My hypothesis is that, when insurance is made available to people, they will use it, roughly in proportion to the degree they are unhealthy.
Yes, I know this is a crude metric, but I think it will be a relatively good predictor of the rate of increase in health care costs in each state over the coming years. This will show up in the insurance premium rates offered in the health care exchanges and will also affect the need for state appropriations to pay for newly eligible Medicaid subscribers.
States with a Pain Index in the top decile are: Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Others with scores over 45 are Nevada, Florida, New Mexico, Georgia, Alaska, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, and West Virginia.
My advice to policy-makers: Get ready! My advice to health care CEOs: This would be a really good time to focus on quality, safety, and front-line driven process improvement as the most effective way to reduce your costs and improve efficiency.