What is community resilience?
Community resilience as defined by the Census Bureau is the capacity of individuals to absorb, endure and recover from health, social and economic hardships due to a pandemic or disaster. Resilience is measured using a variety of risk factors, which include:
- Income-to-poverty ratio
- Single- or zero-caregiver household
- Unit-level crowding (persons per room)
- No employed persons
- No health insurance
- Aged 65 years old and above
- Serious heart condition
Communities with more risk factors are considered less resilient to disasters and therefore are important to identify. By finding these counties, lawmakers can better allocate resources and provide targeted help to those that are most needy. This will be especially important going forward in case of other pandemics similar to that of COVID-19.
- Carvey County, Minn was the most resilient county to pandemic in the United States.
- New York City struggled with 4 out of 5 counties in the area having at least one health risk factor.
- Florida is one of the most at risk states — 30% of the population has more than three health risk factors.
- Health insurance rates were positively correlated with health risks — the most at risk county, Sumter, FL has an average health insurance cost of $581.
Minnesota is the most resilient state to pandemic disaster with the majority of the population in nine of its counties having no health risk factors.
Specifically, Carver County, Minn., had the most community resilience across the entire nation, with 50% of households having no health risk factors. Furthermore, Carver also had the second-lowest percentage of its population with at least three risk factors, at 12%.
When looking at the state as a whole, 78% of the population had less than one to two health risk factors identified by the Census Bureau. This is one of the healthiest populations in the nation; however, it’s not as healthy as Utah and Vermont, which have 80% and 81% respectively in such categories.
In Bronx County, N.Y., 100% of households had at least one risk factor, making it one of the most at-risk areas for a pandemic in the nation.
Furthermore, Kings, Queens and New York counties all followed similar paths as the Bronx — all households identified by the Census Bureau had at least one health risk factor. Outside of these New York counties, Virginia was the only other U.S. state that had counties like this. Specifically, Falls Church City and Manassas Park City.
Florida contained two of the top five counties with the most health risk factors.
However, Texas has the most counties with significant health risks — 13 counties had more than three of the health risk factors for pandemics. One such example is Real County, Texas, where a large population (47%) has over three health risk factors, making it the second-most at-risk county in the nation.
Counties with more risk factors are directly correlated with higher health insurance costs.
This can be seen in the average cost of health insurance for a 40-year-old in each state. The top five counties with the largest percentages of households with no risk factors had an average cost of $439. On the other hand, the most at-risk areas had an average cost of close to $600.
Overall, high-risk counties had health insurance costs that were 37% more expensive than low-risk areas. This would make sense as location is a main factor off of which health insurance companies base their premiums. To understand where there are higher-risk individuals, many insurers will look at the health outcomes in counties and states, which are then reflected in the premiums for plans in that area.
Community resilience estimates are an experimental data product produced by the Census Bureau. The estimates for individual and household characteristics are derived from the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) and combined with the 2018 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).
Health insurance costs were compiled from state health insurance exchanges and Public Use Files (PUF) on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services government website. Using the rates and premiums for each plan, averages were calculated for a variety of variables such as by metal tier, family size or county.