Avoidable health problems still hurt

Hundreds of thousands of Californians are hospitalized every year for avoidable health problems.

Primary and preventative care are considered key in reducing the number of annual hospitalizations across the state and it is hoped that improving this segment of our health care system will help save lives and cut state spending.

In 2008 the state reported the total cost of treating avoidable health conditions to be more than $3.6 billion.  Since 2008 the number of people being hospitalized for avoidable conditions has risen 5 percent to 335,000 adult hospitalizations.

Unfortunately, minorities are still responsible for an inordinate percentage of avoidable hospitalizations, which can be caused by a variety of social factors as well as unequal access to clinical care.

Many conditions used to track the number of avoidable hospitalizations are falling but hypertension, urinary tract infections and long-term complications associated with diabetes are still climbing. In 2008, twice as many African Americans died of diabetes in California than Caucasians.

While certain preventative care strategies such as cancer screenings can be beneficial to some people – the majority of Californians could benefit from simply living a healthier lifestyle. In 2010, nearly 62 percent of Californians were overweight or obese.