LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Altarum and the Citizens Research Council of Michigan have ranked Michigan as the 39th healthiest state in the nation, based on their research. This is a noticeable drop from 2008 when Michigan was ranked 32nd.

This stands in contrast to neighboring Midwestern states, which have experienced, on average, better overall health outcomes.

As Michigan’s population continues to age, challenges to the state’s overall health are expected to worsen.

“Even though Michiganders, on average, have greater access to health care, and we have strong anchor institutions offering world-class medical care, the health of our population is generally worse than national averages,” says Corey Rhyan, Research Director of Health Economics and Policy at Altarum. “

“This outcome reflects the environmental, social, and economic factors that strongly predict our residents’ health,” he said.

The report details significant health disparities by race, with the premature death rate among Black Michiganders being nearly twice as high as those of White and Hispanic populations.

Communities of color also have fewer health care providers than White communities.

Socioeconomic status is another considerable factor, and Michigan ranks 37th out of 50 states in social and economic factors.

People living in Michigan’s rural communities, including much of the Upper Peninsula and parts of the northern Lower Peninsula, have little to no access to health providers.

“We need to take a whole-society approach to understanding the root causes of health by strengthening Michigan’s public health system and investing in research, education and policies regarding social determinants of health outcomes,” said Eric Lupher, president of the Citizens Research Council.