Montgomery County

Montgomery County consists of a 491 square miles that border Frederick and Howard Counties to the north, Fairfax County to the west, Prince George’s County to the east and Washington DC to the south. With more than 1,000,000 residents, it is the most populous county in Maryland. In 2017, Montgomery County earned the distinction of being named the healthiest county in Maryland by the Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings and Community Roadmaps Project.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015 45.2% of its residents identified as White, 17.8% as Black, 19% as Hispanic, and 15.4% as Asian. Compared to the state of Maryland, Prince George’s County has twice as many Hispanic and Asian residents, and three-fifths as many black residents. The median household income in 2015 was $98,300, which is significantly higher than the statewide median of $75,800. The unemployment rate of 4.0% is lower than the statewide rate of 5.2%. There are 7.5% of residents living in poverty and 36% of school-age children are eligible for free and reduced meals (FARMS), compared to 9.9% and 45% statewide.

Demographics of Montgomery County vs Maryland

According to the 2016 Community Health Rankings and Roadmaps Project, Montgomery County ranks 1st of 24 Maryland counties based on health factors and outcomes. The life expectancy in Montgomery County is 84.6 years, which is higher than the state life expectancy of 79.8 years. The infant mortality rate in Montgomery County is 5.3 per 1,000 live births; lower than the state rate of 6.7 per 1,000 live births.

 

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death among Montgomery County residents. Other health indicators for the county include the percent of adults diagnosed with diabetes at 8%, compared to 10% in Maryland. Finally, the HIV prevalence rate in the County is 462 occurrences per 100,000 people, lower than Maryland’s prevalence rate of 641 per 100,000 people.

Infant Mortality Rates by Race

High Blood Pressure Hospitalization Rate by Race

Heart Disease Hospitalization Rate by Race

Although health indicators assist in understanding the health of a particular population, they do not tell the whole story. For example, infant mortality rates are different by race, with higher mortality rates of 8.3 deaths for every 1,000 black births and 7.8 deaths for every 1,000 Hispanic births, compared to 3.5 deaths for every 1,000 white births. Infants born to black mothers most frequently die of a disorders related to short gestation or low birth weight, while infants born to white mothers most frequently die of congenital abnormalities. Data on infants born to Hispanic mothers was not available. Other measures of health tell similar stories of inequity: amongst Medicare beneficiaries 65+, black and Hispanic residents have an increased rate of hospitalization due to high blood pressure, compared to their white neighbors; and black residents have a higher rate of hospitalization due to heart disease. These differences can be partially attributed to social determinants of health, which, according to the World Health Organization, are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age.

Montgomery County has substantial health resources. More than 90% of Montgomery County residents have some type of health care coverage. There are an estimated 1,390 primary care providers practicing in Montgomery County, approximately 1 provider for every 720 residents.  In addition, primary care services for low-income and uninsured residents are provided through a network of 12 community-based clinics, including 3 Federally Qualified Health Centers, 1 hospital-based primary care system and several private and faith-based, non-profit clinics. There are 12 School-Based Health and Wellness Centers serving school-age children.  The County-funded Montgomery Cares and Care for Kids programs support primary health care services for 30,000 uninsured residents. There are 6 non-profit hospitals located in the County, each associated with regional or national health care systems.  Montgomery County is also home to the National Institutes of Health and Mental Health with hospitals and outpatient clinical trials facilities located within its borders.

 

Making Montgomery County a healthier place for all to live requires not only expanding wellness initiatives and access to quality healthcare, but also addressing the economic and social well-being of its citizens.