Anderson County, Tennessee is in East Tennessee, near Knoxville. It’s biggest claims to fame are the Norris Dam, the first ever TVA project, and the town of Oak Ridge, established to develop atomic technology during World War II. It is small enough (75,129 people, according to the 2010 census) to have a County Mayor operating out of the County Town of Clinton, TN. I have chosen it for my first County Profile on the effects of the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid and the current gridlock in TennCare.
Outside of the Oak Ridge complex, the county has several industrial parks containing a number of small industries. There is one hospital, which is not listed as in danger of closing. It is a comparatively small school district of 17 schools, and, unlike richer school districts, high school bands are not pictured in uniform.
Thus I was unsurprised to find that USDA statistics as of 2012 list 18.5% of the citizens in poverty. 4,138 individuals (5.51%) are believed to be in the Coverage Gap, using the 2010 census.
The measure that really induced me to write a county-by-county profile is the relatively new Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) listing commonly used by public health workers.
While most mortality measures are ways of counting deaths, life expectancy can be thought of as an inverse measure of death, or a measure of how long a population is surviving on average.
The average normal age of death used here is 75, and all the recorded deaths in each county during a year are considered. For instance, if a person dies at 25, he/she contributes 50 years to the YPLL rate. The latest YPLL rates are for the years 2008-2010. What we are measuring here is PREMATURE MORTALITY. Accidents and diseases happen to everybody, but, by comparing counties, we can get an idea of the county’s general health. For instance, the wealthiest and healthiest county in Tennessee is Williamson County, and their YPLL as of 2000 was 3,839 Years of Potential Life Lost.
By contrast, little Anderson County, which is not overly rich and has only one hospital, has a YPLL rate of 8,831. Williamson County, my benchmark, has a population of 183,182 (2010 census) to Anderson’s 75,129, but Anderson’s YPLL more than doubles it. This is a big and thought-provoking difference. Contact Senator Randy McNally at email@example.com or call 741-6806 if you think it’s time for a change.