September 22, 2020
U.S. News & World Report ranked three Southeastern Pennsylvania counties and one South Jersey county among the 500 healthiest communities in the United States.
Montgomery County topped all local counties by landing the 140th spot in the third annual rankings, released Tuesday. Chester County came in at No. 168 and Bucks County ranked No. 292. Burlington County – the sole South Jersey representative – earned the 267th spot.
U.S. News evaluated nearly 3,000 counties on 84 health-related metrics in 10 categories, including population health, education, infrastructure and environment.
Montgomery County earned high marks for population health, education and economy. Its life expectancy, smoking rate and percentage of people without health insurance were all significantly better than the national average. So are its high school graduation rate, per-pupil spending and percentage of residents with an advanced degree. Its median household income is nearly double the national figure.
The county scored lowest in the equity category, which considers disparities in income, education and health, and the environment category, which assess air and water quality, park access and environmental risk.
The population health category assessed access to care, healthy behaviors, health conditions and health outcomes. The education category measured the strength of the community's education system and the education level of its residents. The economy category examined various employment and income metrics.
The rankings, a collaboration with the Aetna Foundation, are designed to highlight the policies that give residents the best opportunity to live a productive, healthy life, U.S. News said.
The COVID-19 pandemic did not factor into the rankings because the data was collected prior to the public health crisis. However, U.S. News included a separate analysis of the disease's impact on U.S. communities.
U.S. News partnered with the University of Missouri Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems to analyze data gathered from various sources, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.