U.S. News & World Report partnered with McKinsey & Company and relied on data from CMS and CDC to develop overall healthcare rankings based on performance in healthcare quality, access, and public health.
Few factors bear as heavily on the well-being of any state’s citizens as their overall quality of health. In evaluating the Best States for healthcare, access to preventative medical and dental treatment for children and adults alike is a key consideration. Since adoption of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, also known as “Obamacare,” the percentage of Americans without health insurance has reached a record low, falling below 10 percent. At the same time, the law’s mandate that everyone has coverage – either through employers or public health care programs – or pay a tax penalty has made the measure politically controversial since its inception. The Republican-run Congress and President Donald Trump have vowed to repeal Obamacare, posing a challenge of finding coverage for millions who have found insurance under the law.
State-by-State Healthcare Rankings
Hawaii stands out as the No. 1 Best State for healthcare, by all these measures – Massachusetts No. 2. Among the other top-10 states for health are are some of the smallest, including New England neighbors New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island. The top states also include the biggest of all – California – as well as Midwestern Minnesota and Northwestern Washington state. More than half the top states for healthcare rank among the top-10 Best States overall.
Rounding out the bottom of the healthcare rankings were Arkansas (50), Mississippi (49), Oklahoma (48), Alabama (47) and West Virginia (46).
States that have passed legislation or committed resources to improve their health systems tended to be ranked higher than others.
Geographic variations in healthcare are also apparent in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. In the South, patients tend to perform more poorly than patients elsewhere against certain health indicators like obesity and diabetes rates, according to data collected by Kaiser Family Foundation.
Among 17 states in the South, as defined by the Census Bureau, only three earned a spot in the top half of U.S. News & World Report’s rankings: Maryland (14), Delaware (22), and Virginia (25). Eight of the 10 worst ranked states were located in the South. Meanwhile, none of the nine states in the Northeast earned a ranking below 18.
Healthcare rankings do not account for factors that help to explain discrepancies. For instance, the complicated relationship between race and health outcomes can help to explain poorer performance in the South, which is more diverse than other regions. Still, while the rankings do not paint a complete picture, they deliver accurate state profiles that can serve as building blocks to improve understanding of discrepancies in healthcare.
To see the full list of State-by-State Healthcare Rankings by U.S. News & World Report, click here.