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High Health Status
High Health Status in United States
United States

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Percentage of adults who reported that their health was very good or excellent

High Health Status Trends

Percentage of adults who reported that their health was very good or excellent

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High Health Status

About High Health Status

US Value: 53.2%

Top State(s): Utah: 58.6%

Bottom State(s): Mississippi: 42.1%

Definition: Percentage of adults who reported that their health was very good or excellent

Data Source and Years: CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2021

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

Self-reported health status is a measure of how individuals perceive their own health. It measures health-related quality of life not limited to specific health conditions or outcomes but is influenced by life experiences, the health of others in a person’s life, support from family and friends and other holistic factors affecting well-being.

Research shows that the risk of mortality for those with “poor” self-reported health status is double that of those with ”excellent” self-reported health status. The association between health status and mortality makes this measure a good predictor of future mortality rates.

Better self-reported health status is associated with higher educational attainment regardless of age, gender or race. An additional four years of education reduces the probability of reporting fair or poor health status by 6 percentage points. This is due, in part, to those with higher education suffering from fewer chronic conditions. They may also have better jobs, higher earnings; healthier working conditions and benefits; increased health literacy; and access to resources and opportunities such as healthier foods, regular exercise and health services and transportation.

Populations of adults with a higher percentage of high health status include:

  • Men compared with women.
  • Adults ages 18-44 compared with those ages 45 and older. 
  • Asian and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults compared with Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native adults. 
  • College graduates compared with those with lower educational attainment. The prevalence of high health status significantly increases with educational attainment.
  • Adults with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more compared with those with lower income levels. The prevalence of high health status significantly increases with each increase in household income level.
  • Adults living in metropolitan areas compared with those living in non-metropolitan areas.

Increasing educational attainment at the population-level may improve the population’s health status. The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends implementing early childhood education programs as they improve educational outcomes associated with long-term health and have been shown to reduce educational achievement gaps and promote health equity, especially for children in low-income or racial and ethnic minority communities.

Various high school completion programs have been successful in improving high school graduation rates by targeting at-risk youth. These programs include vocational training, alternative schooling, social-emotional skills training, college-oriented programming, mentoring and counseling, attendance monitoring, community service opportunities and case management.

Health status is an overall health and well-being measure used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to summarize and gauge progress toward achieving Healthy People 2030 objectives.

Community Preventive Services Task Force. “Recommendation for Center-Based Early Childhood Education to Promote Health Equity.” Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 22, no. 5 (September 2016): E9–10.

Cutler, David, and Adriana Lleras-Muney. “Education and Health.” Policy Brief #9. Ann Arbor, MI: National Poverty Center, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at University of Michigan, March 2007.

———. “Education and Health: Evaluating Theories and Evidence.” NBER Working Paper 12352. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, July 2006.

DeSalvo, Karen B., Nicole Bloser, Kristi Reynolds, Jiang He, and Paul Muntner. “Mortality Prediction with a Single General Self-Rated Health Question.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 21, no. 3 (March 1, 2006): 267.

Hahn, Robert A., John A. Knopf, Sandra Jo Wilson, Benedict I. Truman, Bobby Milstein, Robert L. Johnson, Jonathan E. Fielding, et al. “Programs to Increase High School Completion: A Community Guide Systematic Health Equity Review.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 48, no. 5 (March 26, 2015): 599–608.

Lorem, Geir, Sarah Cook, David A. Leon, Nina Emaus, and Henrik Schirmer. “Self-Reported Health as a Predictor of Mortality: A Cohort Study of Its Relation to Other Health Measurements and Observation Time.” Scientific Reports 10 (December 2020): 4886.

Lundborg, Petter. “The Health Returns to Schooling—What Can We Learn from Twins?” Journal of Population Economics 26, no. 2 (July 11, 2012): 673–701.

Quesnel–Vallée, Amélie. “Self-Rated Health: Caught in the Crossfire of the Quest for ‘True’ Health?” International Journal of Epidemiology 36, no. 6 (December 1, 2007): 1161–64.

Ramon, Ismaila, Sajal K. Chattopadhyay, W. Steven Barnett, Robert A. Hahn, and The Community Preventive Services Task Force. “Early Childhood Education to Promote Health Equity: A Community Guide Economic Review.” Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 24, no. 1 (2018).

“Why Education Matters to Health: Exploring the Causes.” Issue Brief #2. Education and Health Initiative. Richmond, VA: The VCU Center on Society and Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, April 2014.

Current Reports

America’s Health Rankings builds on the work of the United Health Foundation to draw attention to public health and better understand the health of various populations. Our platform provides relevant information that policymakers, public health officials, advocates and leaders can use to effect change in their communities.

We have developed detailed analyses on the health of key populations in the country, including women and children, seniors and those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, in addition to a deep dive into health disparities across the country.