Steamboat Springs residents Laura Cusenbary and Jennifer Campbell go for a bike ride south of town as the ski slopes on Mount Werner loom behind them. In part because of the abundant access to exercise opportunities here, Routt County is maintaining its ranking as one of the healthiest places in Colorado.

Photo by Scott Franz

Steamboat Springs residents Laura Cusenbary and Jennifer Campbell go for a bike ride south of town as the ski slopes on Mount Werner loom behind them. In part because of the abundant access to exercise opportunities here, Routt County is maintaining its ranking as one of the healthiest places in Colorado.

Routt County maintains reputation as 1 of healthiest places in Colorado

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— As they pedaled hard south of town Saturday and passed dozens of other road bikers, Laura Cusenbary and Jennifer Campbell chatted about how challenging it was to live in a place like Steamboat Springs and keep up with its rigorous athletic pace.

It's this rigorous pace and a slew of other factors that are helping Routt County maintain its reputation as one of the healthiest places in Colorado.

The latest round of health rankings compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation places Routt as the 11th-healthiest county in the second-healthiest state in the nation.

The foundation graded 59 of Colorado's 64 counties on a range of criteria ranging from the prevalence of adult obesity to the availability of primary care physicians.

With only 6 percent of adults here reporting they are in poor or “fair health,” Routt shined in the quality of life category.

And with a low prevalence of adult smoking and obesity and a high level of access to exercise opportunities, Routt also scored high in the health behaviors category.

Charity Neal, the director of public health for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, said Routt has a lot to like in the latest report.

“The good thing for Routt County is it has consistently remained in the top of the rankings,” Neal said. “You can't ask much more than that.”

Neal called the health rankings one of many tools local health providers use to see how the health of a community is trending.

But the rankings also have limitations because they largely use data that is 3 to 4 years old.

“You have to gauge the community on a day-to-day and month-to-month basis rather than just using these rankings,” Neal said.

Still, Neal said the ability to look back at the rankings and watch health trends is important, and big changes in the rankings can stand out and inform communities about problems.

In Routt County, many of the trends in the latest report were positive.

The number of people who reported they were physically inactive dropped, as did the number of people who were uninsured.

Holding Routt County back was a physical environment category that evaluated counties on things such as the quality of drinking water, the length of driving commutes and the quality of the air.

Neal said that last year, the category graded counties on a different set of criteria, including the number of fast-food resteraunts in the area and access to recreational facilities.

This time around, Routt County ranked 35th in the physical environment category because of some dings from the scores that take commuting and drinking water violations into account.

Read the full report here.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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Comments

Chris Hadlock 7 months, 3 weeks ago

So then why are the Routt Country Health Insurance rates higher than anywhere else in Colorado? Just sayin!

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Neil O'Keeffe 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Because it's the free-market doing what it does best. Just ask Steve!

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Scott Ford 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Chris - Who would have thought that one’s zip code was a pre-existing condition?

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mark hartless 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Maybe the insurance companies take into account the default rates, the skips, the likelihood of ski and other recreational injuries which may NOT be considered part of "healthy" definition.

Perhaps they also consider the cost of providing care in a remote location, the lack of certain facilities such as coronary care and other surgery, the necessity of paying more in salaries and compensation for care.

And maybe, just maybe prices would drop if the freakin government allowed other insurers to cross the state line and do business in all 50 states...

Maybe they even take into account the proclivity of people here to engage in legal action against providers and their insurers...

Maybe there is no such thing as a "free market" right now and maybe you guys don't really get that. Maybe you don't WANT to get that...

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Neil O'Keeffe 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Not to burst the good news bubble for the day but the most likely answer to Chris Hadlock's question is probably an eye opener to many. According to the Colorado Depart of Public Health, Routt and Moffatt counties have higher than the state average of deaths (per capita) attributed to Suicide, Non motor vehicle unintentional injuries, Motor Vehicle unintentional injuries and Total unintentional injuries. Moffatt has higher per capita deaths related to Heart Disease, Chronic Lower Respiratory Dz, and Lung Cancer (think it could be related to coal mining)?

Yes we may have a higher percentage of healthier than average state residents but we also have an unhealthier percentage as well as a higher incidence of acute and chronic issues related to sports injuries. That is the yin and the yang of it and quite likely why our health insurance will always be more here than in higher populated areas of the state. At least until we graduate to a single payer system where the losses of the few are truly paid by the premiums/taxes of the many.

http://www.chd.dphe.state.co.us/chaps/Documents/PHIPs/RouttandMoffatCommunityHealthImprovementPlan.pdf

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Rob Douglas 7 months, 3 weeks ago

"We've gone from letting the insurance companies use a pre-existing medical condition to jack up rates to having a pre-existing zip code being the reason health insurance is unaffordable," Fales said. "It's just wrong."

http://www.timescall.com/top-stories/ci_25453097/rural-residents-confront-higher-health-care-costs

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erich ferguson 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't understand where Laura and Jennifer are having trouble keeping up with the "rigorous athletic pace"when they are apparently 2 of the fastest road bikers in the county...they were just chatting as they were passing dozens of other bikers..I hope someday to be that amazing.

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mark hartless 7 months, 3 weeks ago

"... that is the yin and the yang of it and quite likely why our health insurance will always be more here than in higher populated areas of the state. At least until we graduate to a single payer system where the losses of the few are truly paid by the premiums/taxes of the many. ..."

Yes; then the premiums will be higher EVERYWHERE.

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Dan Shores 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Chris and Neil, all we can do at this point is to make sure that our State legislators are made aware of this issue. I understand the the rates in Summit and Eagle counties are even higher than ours. I have contacted State officials regarding this issue and I would encourage all to do the same.

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