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Editorial: Minnesota is at-risk for Ebola

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Editorial: Minnesota is at-risk for Ebola
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

   The good news is that Minnesota ranks No. 1 in a new survey of which states get the best bang for their health care buck.

     That’s no small feat. For a country that spends $2.9 trillion a year on health care – twice as much per capita as other industrialized nations – one would think the United States is home to the healthiest humans on the planet.

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     And yet, the reverse is true: Americans have shorter lives, higher infant mortality rates and more cases of chronic diseases than populations of other wealthy countries.

     Last year, the average U.S. annual health insurance premium for an individual had a price tag of $5,884 while families paid an average of $16,351 for group coverage.

     To put that in perspective, according to WalletHub.com, single coverage has increased by 74 percent and family coverage by 80 percent since 2003.

     It’s no surprise that millions of Americans consider forgoing medical attention a better option than draining their savings.

     To examine the quality of American health care relative to its cost, WalletHub used data from 47 states to construct a health-related return on investment metric.

     Minnesota has the lowest health care costs in the nation, the second-lowest death rate, and the third-lowest overall health ranking, putting it at the top of the overall health list.

     Iowa is tied for fourth place with Hawaii, North Dakota is ranked No. 16, and Wisconsin is ranked No. 29.

     It’s a good thing Minnesota has a good health care system, because it’s a dangerous world.

     The Ebola virus, for example, a lethal and contagious disease with no known cure or vaccine, used to show up in isolated outbreaks in rural, backwards areas of Africa.

     Not anymore. The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is now attacking parts of the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where more than 1,200 people have been infected so far – and it is just a plane ride away from Minnesota, which has a large West African population.

     A Minnesota man who was also a Liberian government official recently brought the disease to Lagos, Nigeria, a city of 21 million. He grew sick on the airplane trip, and died in a Lagos hospital.

     He had a plane ticket for Minnesota next month, to visit his wife and daughters.

     That’s a scary thought: Ebola is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.

     This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.

     It is passed through contact with bodily fluids, and so takes a disproportionate toll on health care workers. The overall fatality rate is 50 to 90 percent.

     Liberia has closed all its borders except for three land crossings, but there are no restrictions on travelers entering the U.S., and the Centers for Disease Control is preparing for the possibility that a passenger from the region who is ill boards a plane and lands in the U.S. and starts infecting residents.

     The agency is informing its network of physicians in state and local public-health facilities about how to look for signs of Ebola.

     Our thoughts and prayers go to those suffering with Ebola, a truly terrible disease, and to the healthcare workers risking their lives to save them in West Africa.

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