The Health of Wake County

Although Wake County is the healthiest county in North Carolina according to the County Health Rankings, there are still many Wake County individuals in poor health.  Health is affected by where and how we live, work, play and learn.  The 2016 Wake County Community Health Needs Assessment identified four priority areas: (1) Health Insurance Coverage, (2) Transportation, (3) Access to Health Services, and (4) Mental Health.                    Download CHNA Executive Summary                      Download Full CHNA

Even with healthcare reform, between 90,000 and 95,000 Wake County individuals remain in the so-called healthcare “gap” -- they do not qualify for Medicaid, do not earn enough to be eligible for healthcare subsidies, and cannot afford to purchase health insurance on their own.  Nearly 19% of residents between the ages of 18-64 have no health insurance. The numbers are significantly higher for the Latino and African-American populations.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 79% of the uninsured reside in a working household.

Uninsured individuals are at higher risk of going without necessary care -- such as a doctor's visit for a chronic condition, preventative care, or filling a prescription due to limited ability to pay -- even though they are often those with great health needs.  About one in six low-income adults are in fair or poor health, and about a third have a diagnosed chronic condition.  Uninsured individuals are more likely to die early.

About 60% of low-income, uninsured adults have no regular source of care to turn to when they need medical services. Without a medical home, many small health issues are not addressed and become bigger problems, which in turn are more expensive and difficult to treat.  

The most recent figures available show that utilization of WakeMed's emergency room rose nearly 9 percent from 2003 to 2004. It is estimated that nearly 60% of this volume is non-urgent, and a significant percentage is for primary care services.  The average visit to the emergency room costs $1,596.  

  • Seventeen percent of Wake County adults have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives (2013 Wake County Community Health Opinion Survey).  
  • Almost 2 out of 3 adults are either overweight or obese (NC State Center for Health Statistics, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2010).  
  • 10% of Wake County residents do not engage in any physical activity (2013 Wake County Community Health Opinion Survey).  
  • 74.1% of Wake County residents do not eat enough fruits and vegetables