Policy, politics and progressive commentary
A new analysis of health factors and outcomes by county has put some numbers to Nevada’s health care provider shortage.
Nevada has fewer primary care physicians, dentists and mental health providers per capita than the United States overall.
Clark County, which contains approximately three-fourths of the state’s population, has one primary care physician for every 1,760 residents. Clark fares worse than the state’s other two urban areas. Carson City has one physician for every 1,331 residents while Washoe County has one for every 1,292 residents.
The physician shortage is even worse in rural areas. Two Nevada counties — Eureka and Storey — had no primary care physicians in 2019, the year the data was based on. Both are among the smallest counties in the state, with Eureka’s 2020 population recorded at just 1,855 people and Storey’s being 4,104.
In Nevada’s other rural counties, the ratio ranged from one physician for every 910 residents in Mineral County to one physician for every 6,725 in Pershing County. For Pershing County, that is roughly equivalent to one for the entire county, which has 6,650 residents according to 2020 Census data.
Only Washoe and Mineral counties had ratios better than the U.S. average of one physician for every 1,310 people.
A similar pattern emerges when it comes to dental providers. Clark County has one dentist for every 1,593 residents. That’s worse than in Carson City, which has one dentist for every 1,001 residents, and Washoe County, which has 1 dentist for every 1,433 residents.
Nevada’s rural counties ranged from having no dentists at all in Storey to having one for every 5,514 residents in Lander. (Notably, Lander County’s entire population was 5,734 residents in 2020.)
The U.S. average ratio is one dentist per 1,400 people.
Nevada’s number of mental health providers also fell below the national average of one provider per 380 residents.
Clark County has one mental health provider for every 445 residents. Washoe County and Carson City both had better-than-average ratios — 1:289 and 1:334, respectively.
Eureka County had no mental health providers as of 2020, according to the dataset from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The analysis on health care providers comes from a nationwide county-by-county analysis of health factors and health outcomes. The analysis was spearheaded by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
The analysis of health factors looked at four categories: behaviors (such as drug use and exercise rates), access and quality of clinical care (including the aforementioned data points), socioeconomic factors (such as education, income and community safety) and physical environment (such as air and water quality, housing and transit).
Within Nevada, Storey County ranked first for health factors and Nye County ranked last. Clark County ranked 14th.
Clark County’s overall ranking in the state was brought down by its worst-in-the-state rankings for socioeconomic factors and physical environment.
One analysis looked at the percentage of households dealing with at least one of four of these severe housing issues: overcrowding, high housing costs, lack of kitchen facilities, or lack of plumbing facilities. It found one in five — 19.5 percent — Clark County households are.
Notably, the analysis used data covering 2014 to 2018, so it does not reflect more recent spikes in housing costs.
Other notable findings:
- The childcare cost burden in Nevada — meaning the percentage of a household’s income needed to pay for childcare — is 30%. Nationally, the childcare cost burden is 25% — meaning a quarter of every dollar earned goes to paying for childcare. The federal government sets childcare affordability at 7% of household income. No state in the country meets that benchmark.
- Half of all children in Mineral County are living in a household headed by a single parent. Nationally, 26% are. Rates for Nevada’s other counties ranged from 7.6% in Eureka to 37.2% in Lander. In Clark County, 29.2% of children are living in a single-parent household.
- Considering the median earnings of all full-time, year-round workers, women in Nevada make 88 cents for every $1 made by a man. The gender pay disparities ranged dramatically by county — from 48 cents for women in Lander to 91 cents for women in White Pine. In Clark, women make 88 cents for every $1 made by a man. In raw numbers: Lander County women have a median income of $42,692 annually compared to a median income of $88,053 annually for men.
- Only one Nevada county — Lander — had a better-than-national-average rate of food insecurity. Nationally, 10.5% of people are food insecure. Rates across Nevada ranged from 9 to 16%.
- A meta-analysis of school funding adequacy found that Clark County would need $5,221 per pupil more to reach what researchers estimate it would take for the county to achieve average U.S. test scores. The analysis considered socioeconomic factors like family income and race to set individual ‘adequacy’ levels for each county. Washoe and Mineral county would need $936 and $882 more, respectively. All other counties are above the adequacy benchmark, with the excess ranging from $164 to $14,812 per pupil.
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute also ranked counties based on health outcomes — meaning length of life and quality of life factors (such as the average number of poor physical or mental health days people have had recently). There, Clark County fared better within the state than it did on health behaviors. Clark ranked sixth in Nevada. Douglas County ranked highest and Mineral County last.
Clark County residents can expect to live 78.4 years. Life expectancy by county ranged from 71.6 years in Mineral to 82.9 years in Storey.
The U.S. average life expectancy is 78.8 years.
Complete results from the County Health Rankings & Roadmap are available online.
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