New Report: People with Military Service Report Better Overall Health, but Face Higher Rates of Cancer, Heart Disease than Civilian Peers
- People who have served have a 62-percent higher rate of coronary heart disease, 67-percent higher rate of heart attacks and 13-percent higher rate of cancer
- Those who served are less likely to be physically inactive at all ages than civilians; more likely to get insufficient sleep
- People who have served face different access challenges: 90 percent have health insurance, but are less likely to have a personal doctor or health care provider
The majority of people who have served in the U.S. military report being in very good or excellent health despite facing notable health challenges, including higher rates of cancer and coronary heart disease, than those who have not served (also referred to as civilians).
That is according to the 2016 America’s Health Rankings® Health of Those Who Have Served Report, newly released by United Health Foundation in partnership with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). Through the analysis of 24 health measures, the report, developed in collaboration with an advisory group of leading public health, military and veterans’ organizations, establishes a national baseline and a holistic portrait of the health of people who have served in the U.S. military.
People Who Have Served Report Better Overall Health, but Face Higher Rates of Chronic Health Challenges
Those who have served are more likely to report being in very good or excellent health compared with civilians. However, men and women who have served report higher rates of several chronic diseases and unhealthy behaviors compared with their civilian counterparts. For example:
- People who have served have a 13-percent higher rate of cancer, 62-percent higher rate of coronary heart disease and 67-percent higher rate of heart attacks.
- Individuals 18-39 years of age who have served have a 39-percent higher rate of insufficient sleep and 23-percent higher rate of smoking.
Men and Women Who Have Served are Less Physically Inactive at All Ages
The report found physical inactivity for all age groups is 22-percent lower among people who have served in the military compared with those who have not served. Specifically, physical inactivity is 38-percent lower among individuals 18-39 years of age who have served vs. their civilian peers, and 21-percent lower among individuals over 80 years of age.
People Who Have Served Have Higher Rates of Health Insurance Coverage, but Individuals 18-39 Years of Age Often Lack a Personal Doctor or Health Care Provider
The report found people who have served in the military have higher rates of health insurance coverage, fewer unmet medical needs and higher utilization of certain preventive services compared with those who have not served. However, they also are less likely to have someone they regard as a personal doctor or health care provider. For example:
- More than 90 percent of people who have served in the military have health insurance coverage, compared with about 83 percent of civilians.
- Individuals 18-39 years of age who have served are far less likely to have a personal doctor or health care provider (59.3 percent) compared with their older peers with military service and civilians of all ages.
“Despite the confidence among those who have served in the U.S. military in regards to their health, the higher rates of coronary heart disease and cancer compared with their civilian counterparts are concerning,” said Richard Migliori, M.D., senior adviser to United Health Foundation, and executive vice president, Medical Affairs, and chief medical officer of UnitedHealth Group. “We owe a great debt of gratitude to those who have served, and we need to do all we can to help improve their health. Using the new insights from this report, we can identify specific opportunities to work together to help improve the health of our service members and veterans.”
“The health of those who have served is a high priority for all of us,” said MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret). “We believe insights from this report will help stimulate dialogue and action to better serve the unique health needs of uniformed service members, veterans and their families.”
This is the second time MOAA has partnered with United Health Foundation to identify specific areas to improve care for the men and women who have served.
“The health of those who have served is an important area of focus for policymakers, health officials and community leaders,” Atkins said. “We encourage others to use these findings to help improve the lives of service members and their families.”
To read this report and additional America’s Health Rankings materials, visit http://www.americashealthrankings.org.
About America’s Health Rankings and Health of Those Who Have Served Report
America’s Health Rankings, in partnership with MOAA, released the Health of Those Who Have Served Report to develop a holistic study of the heath of those who have served in the U.S. military compared with the health of civilians in the same age and demographic groups. The report focuses on the health of those who have ever served on active duty in the United States Armed Forces, either in regular military or in a National Guard or military reserve unit. Within the sample, the age distribution of those who have served and those who have not was adjusted to reflect the U.S. population and provide comparisons for the same age and demographic groups of both populations.
The Health of Those Who Have Served Report establishes a national baseline portrait of the health of those who have ever served in active duty, analyzing 24 health measures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) – the world’s largest, annual population-based telephone survey of over 400,000 people.The measures include indicators of health behaviors, health outcomes and utilization of key health care services.
United Health Foundation also produces the annual America’s Health Rankings Annual Report and has recently expanded its reporting series to include a number of spotlight reports focused on important markers of the nation’s health, including prevention and the impacts of unhealthy behaviors, and population reports on the health of seniors and the health of women and children. For more information, visit www.americashealthrankings.org.
About United Health Foundation
Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, United Health Foundation has committed nearly $315 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at www.unitedhealthgroup.com/SocialResponsibility or follow Facebook.com/UHGGives.
About Military Officers Association of America
MOAA is the nation's largest and most influential association of officers from the seven uniformed services. It is an independent, nonprofit, politically nonpartisan organization. MOAA is a powerful force with members from every branch of the uniformed services, including military active duty, National Guard and Reserve; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and United States Public Health Service; retired, former officers, and their families. Together we work to ensure a strong national defense and represent the interests of all uniformed service members, officer and enlisted, at every stage of their careers. Learn more at: http://www.moaa.org/