Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Health rankings show NJ weighs in as 11th healthiest

New Jersey has more dentists per capita than any other state in the U.S., the second lowest rate of infectious disease and the third lowest rate of infant mortality.

These positive health measures are some of the reasons New Jersey earned its rank at number 11 on the United Health Foundation’s 2015 America’s Health Rankings®. But some health struggles facing New Jersey kept it out of the top 10.

Some of New Jersey’s health challenges include:
  • A rise in the rate of obesity to 26.9 percent of adults.
  • An increase in the percentage of adults with diabetes to 9.7 percent.
  • A low rate of childhood vaccinations, a significant drop from recent years and putting it in 40th place on this year’s report. In the state, only 67.2 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months receive the recommended vaccinations.
  • Drug deaths, which increased 90 percent from 6.9 to 13.1 per 100,000 people.

Now in its 26th year, America’s Health Rankings is a useful perspective not only on how New Jersey’s health has changed in the past year, but over the past decades in good ways and bad. The report is designed to provide stakeholders (individuals, clinicians, public health officials) with a comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data on which to take action when considering their personal health and the health of the overall New Jersey community.

Overall, the report shows that in 2015 Americans are making meaningful progress on key health metrics including smoking less and leading less sedentary lives.  New Jersey is headed in the right direction in many ways, and doing a better job of delivering health services that address key issues such as dental care, infectious disease and infant mortality. But troubling statistics like the steady rise in rates of obesity and diabetes indicate that we’re not doing a good job at practicing healthy behaviors in our everyday lives.

As we look ahead to 2016, the rankings are a guide to show us areas in which we need to improve and the successes upon which we can continue to build.  UnitedHealthcare will continue to develop innovative programs designed to address New Jersey’s health challenges and help educate people about living healthier lives.

For more information about the rankings, visit

Monday, December 7, 2015

Business growth depends on simplifying the customer experience

Many New Jersey entrepreneurs want to know what industry in New Jersey has the greatest opportunities for growth.

As it turns out, businesses have a fair shot for success in any industry, as long as they follow the right business strategy. Recently, business leaders throughout New Jersey gathered for the NJBiz “50 Fastest Growing Companies” awards in Somerset, NJ. As one of the presenting sponsors of the awards, we at UnitedHealthcare were deeply impressed by the diverse array of companies at the awards. From LED light manufacturers to digital marketing agencies to biopharmaceutical companies, it’s clear that New Jersey businesses are using cutting-edge technologies and business strategies to gain a competitive edge or serve a niche market.

While the represented industries were diverse, one thing they had in common was their ability to solve incredibly complex problems to create simple solutions for their customers. These companies collectively present the perfect game plan for growing a business and creating new jobs: Serve your markets with simple but innovative products and services based on advanced ideas and technology.

In many ways, it reminds me of UnitedHealthcare’s approach to helping our members live healthier lives. Despite the fact that we’re a much larger company than many of the award recipients, we approach each of our markets – individual, Medicare, Medicaid, large employers, small employers – with the aim of simplifying their needs. While our business tactics are build on the complex data of our 1.7 million customers in New Jersey and millions more nationwide, we focus on making the customer experience as simple as possible by using an extensive array of Internet software, mobile apps and proprietary customer service models.

We’re proud of the similarities between our own organization and 50 of the top companies that are making New Jersey a great place to work and live. We congratulate each of these businesses not just for their success, but also for their resilience, dedication to quality, innovation and commitment to their employees and the community. For more information about New Jersey’s 50 Fastest Growing companies, see the NJBiz feature on the winners.