SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Georgia faces significant challenges in its health care system, ranking 35th overall in the country by a United Health Foundation report.
“We have a high percentage of low birth weight infants and a high prevalence of avoiding care due to cost among women, and also low weight coverage among eligible children,” said Dr. Stephen Palte, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare of Georgia.
Georgia ranks 49th when it comes to women who avoid care due to cost.
Palte recommends using the United Healthcare insurance bundle tool to find affordable plans.
“There are areas within the state where there are significant, as what we would determine as deserts, for health care, as well as for food women and children don’t have access to,” said Palte.
Even with health insurance, the lack of providers in the state, especially in rural areas, is a cause for concern.
In Georgia, 65 counties have no pediatrician, 82 counties have no OB-GYN and 90 counties don’t have a psychiatrist, according to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
Additionally in Georgia, there are 2 million residents, and 500,000 children live in food deserts.
“Making more health care accessible to the population, not only through having those health care providers available but also things like Telehealth and virtual visits which make people a lot more comfortable,” said Palte.
The child mortality rate in Georgia is above the national value, Palte explains.
“The latest report would tend to suggest that firearm deaths are up in Georgia in children up to the age of 19, so that definitely is an issue.”
As of 2021, suicide was the third leading cause of death for Georgia children aged 5 to 17.
“In the community and in your own community speaking to a representative and making known that health care resources are required,” said Palte.
Altogether, Palte recommends increasing community health centers that will be able to educate in disease prevention, provide affordable checkups and bolster community trust in health care providers.