Critical factors in human health include access to health care and lifestyle indicators such as exercise. In Berks County, most residents have health insurance but many are overweight or obese and a significant share do not regularly engage in physical activity.

Just 7% of Berks County residents under 65 lacked health insurance, on par with the state, and slightly better than the national rate of 10%. Reaching a low uninsured rate and ensuring that residents have access to medical care and are able to maintain financial stability is possible in part through government and state assistance to those who cannot afford healthcare. Berks County had 18% of its residents enrolled in Medicaid managed care, again on par with the state. Both the state and county have experienced a 5 percentage point  increase since 2015 in the proportion of their residents that are enrolled in these services. The percentage of Medicaid managed care enrollees rose in all neighboring counties from 2015 to 2017 as the state entered its third year of expanded Medicaid eligibility, with Berks’ increase above most nearby counties’ 2 to 4 percentage point increases.

Residents’ current health level is as important as their access to healthcare. Berks and Schuylkill counties residents display health levels similar to the state and nation. In Berks and Schuylkill counties, 18% of residents report being in fair or poor health, indicating that the majority of residents perceived their overall health as good, very good, or even excellent. Despite this, almost a quarter of Berks and Schuylkill counties residents had not engaged in leisure-time physical activity in the past 30 days, raising concerns as to their future health status and potential higher healthcare costs. 

The majority (69%) of Berks and Schuylkill counties residents were overweight or obese, an increase of 3 percentage points since 2011-13. This increase was driven by an increase in the share of obese residents, even as the share of overweight residents declined. Berks and Schuylkill counties had a larger percentage of obese residents (34%) than either the state or the nation.

The share of overweight and obese children in Berks was smaller, but had increased at a faster rate with 34% of K-6th and 38% of 7-12th graders being overweight or obese, a 4 and 6 percentage point increase respectively,  since 2009.