While health insurance is widespread in Essex County, as it is throughout Massachusetts, the county shares many of the same health concerns as the nation: obesity, diabetes, smoking, cancer and drug addiction. The opioid crisis has hit Essex County particularly hard, as evidenced by high rates of admissions for treatment and deaths from overdose.

Just 3% of Essex County residents under 65 in 2016 lacked health insurance, on par with the state but far below the national rate of 10%. Spending on medical care was $524 per member, per month in 2017, higher than 2016 and below the statewide level of $630.

While Essex County was not immune from any of the nation’s leading health-related problems, the area where it stood out was substance abuse. A national survey found rising rates of illegal drug use that were somewhat higher in the county (19% of adults and 17% of youth said they used an illegal drug in the last 30 days) than in the nation. And the rate of drug overdose deaths in Essex County, 23 per 100,000 residents, was higher than the national rate of 20. 

State data on treatment admissions shows the growing problem of heroin. While total admissions rose 15% from 2005 to 2014 to nearly 10,500, admissions primarily due to heroin increased 60% while several other categories declined. By 2014, heroin and other opioids were responsible for 60% of admissions, up from 46% in 2005. Essex County’s rate of admissions, 136 per 10,000 residents, was below the state rate of 154 but far higher than the Middlesex County rate of 90.  

In other areas of behavioral health and general health, Essex County more closely mirrors other areas:

  • About 15% of adults smoke.
  • About 4% report suffering from mental illness.
  • The suicide rate of 0.9 deaths per 10,000 residents reflects an increase from 53 in 2000 to 72, but the rise was not steady.
  • About 62% of adults and 32% of children were overweight or obese.
  • The overall mortality rate has been declining, falling 17% since 2000.

Essex County had relatively high rates in a few other areas:

  • The rate of newly identified diabetes cases was 79 per 10,000 in 2015, far higher than the state, nation and comparison counties
  • The rate of new cancers was slightly higher than the state, nation and two of the three comparison counties.

Bachelor's Degree or Higher by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Preterm Births Increasing
Infant Mortality Rate Maintaining
Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels Decreasing
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Child Abuse and Neglect Increasing
Disengaged Youth Decreasing
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Youth Arrests Decreasing
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Maintaining
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Employment Maintaining
Tourism Spending Increasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Charitable Contributions Maintaining
Protected Land Not Applicable
Days with Good Air Quality Increasing
Beach Contamination Decreasing
Daily Water Use per Resident Decreasing
Crimes Against People Increasing
Crimes Against Property Increasing
Drug-Related Arrests Maintaining
Reports of Domestic Violence Increasing
Incarceration Rates Decreasing
Recidivism Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Traffic Injuries and Fatalities Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Change in Total Population Increasing
Change in Population by Age/Gender Not Applicable
People 65 or Older Living Alone Decreasing
People with Disabilities Increasing
Households by Type Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families by Gender Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Change in Total Jobs Increasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary Increasing
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Median Earnings by Occupation by Gender Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving County for Work Not Applicable
Employer Size Not Applicable
Self-Employment Revenue Decreasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Prekindergarten Participation Not Applicable
Female Enrollment in School Not Applicable
Chronically Absent Students Increasing
Per-Student Spending Increasing
Bullying Maintaining
Student Performance on Grade 3 Reading Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math by Student Group Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 10 English Language Arts Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 10 Math Not Applicable
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate by Student Group Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
Income in Relation to Poverty Level Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income Decreasing
Median Household Income by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage Rate by Household Type Not Applicable
Households Receiving Temporary Assistance Maintaining
Households Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
Participation in Food Assistance by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Earned Income Tax Credit Participation Maintaining
Economically Disadvantaged Students Increasing
Median Home Value Increasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Homeownership Rates Maintaining
Homeownership Rates by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homeless Persons Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Medical Care Expenses Increasing
Prevalence of Children with Asthma Maintaining
Prevalence of Overweight Children Decreasing
Prevalence of Overweight Adults Not Applicable
Diabetes Incidence Decreasing
Chronic Disease Among Older Adults Increasing
Cancer Incidence Decreasing
Cancer Mortality Rate Decreasing
Heart Disease Mortality Rate Decreasing
Mortality Rate Decreasing
People who Smoke Not Applicable
Use of Illegal Drugs Not Applicable
Youth Use of Illegal Drugs Not Applicable
Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Not Applicable
Drug Overdose Mortality Rate Increasing
Prevalence of Mental Illness Maintaining
Suicide Rate Maintaining