History in Tompkins County
The health landscape in Ithaca is very important for making sure that people are healthy and have access to safe, affordable care. Tompkins County is one of the top New York State counties for health statistics, but it is important to remember that the young, educated student population will inflate those numbers.
Ithaca’s health, poverty, and other statistics are sometimes skewed because of its large student population, but some trends are clear. First, as of 2016, Tompkins County has a poverty rate of 20.6 percent. This means that for Ithaca especially, cost will probably be a large factor to consider in tackling health issues.
Second, although the student populations at Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Tompkins Cortland Community College push the median age of Tompkins County down to 29.5 years, there is a significant aging population. Currently, 10.7 percent of residents are 65 years or older. Sources say the aging population will put a strain on government and other health services as it grows.
Recently, residents have reported increased concern about drug and alcohol abuse, as well as about the prevalence of mental illnesses. Another issue is that the physicians-to-residents ratio for Tompkins County and the rest of the Southern Tier is much lower than in New York State as a whole. In Tompkins County the ratio is 22.4 physicians per 10,000 residents and in the rest of the Southern Tier it is 23.6 physicians per 10,000 residents, compared to 33 physicians per 10,000 residents in the state as a whole as of 2007.
One thing to keep in mind when talking about access to healthcare, health insurance, and other related topics is that the Affordable Care Act will put some statistics out of date or at least make them less relevant than they used to be.