Ranking the best states for healthcare highlights where more work is needed.
Good healthcare is hard to exactly define. What measurements are or aren’t important? What defines a healthy population?To help answer those questions, as well as to gain a better picture of where healthcare measurements are lacking, MoneyRates.com created a proprietary study of the best and worst states for healthcare. It ranked all 50 states plus the District of Columbia based on seven different factors: health insurance coverage, age-adjusted mortality, vaccination rates, infant mortality, nursing-home availability, hospital availability and practicing physicians per capita. Ranks across the seven categories were averaged, and those averages were used to rank the states overall.As for overall landscape of what healthcare looks like in the U.S., it can vary widely by location, according to Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst, MoneyRates.com“It depends on where you look, because the differences in conditions are jarring. For example, more than 40% of the kids in Oregon are unvaccinated, which is worse than twice the national average,” Barrington says. “More than 17% of people in Texas lack health insurance, which is more than six times the percentage uninsured in Massachusetts. Our study found contrasts like that across a range of different criteria.”Related article:Â Top 10 States with the Highest Drug Use ProblemsUnderstanding those differences highlights challenges-and opportunities-for healthcare executives.“For health executives and policymakers, these rankings can be viewed as a report card of areas that perform well and areas that need improvement,” says Barrington. “From a business standpoint, health executives can also look at areas needing improvement as an opportunity. For example, even Massachusetts, which ranked as the best state overall, was among the worst for available hospital capacity. That could be an opportunity for someone to provide that capacity. This study could interest health executives from the standpoint of showing where supply is not meeting demand in their home states and where opportunities might exist to provide what they do well in other states.”Below is a summary of where the top 10 best and worst states ranked and why. For more specifics on the strengths and weaknesses of particular states, please see the comparison tool within this article.Â Â
“We can all learn from being evaluated, so this study can help people see where there is room for improvement,” Barrington says. “Perhaps what’s most helpful about the state-by-state comparison across so many different categories is that it provides insight into where each aspect of healthcare delivery is being done well. That offers the chance to learn from examples of how healthcare delivery could be executed more successfully. For any ambitious executive, room for improvement should be viewed as an opportunity, not a problem.”
“Conditions here are rated as robust in five out of seven categories, earning Massachusetts the best average ranking. Still, even in the best state for healthcare, not everything is ideal,” says Barrington. “Hospital capacity is constrained relative to demand, earning Massachusetts a critical classification in that category.”
Four of seven categories earned Colorado a robust rating and the state was not below average in any category.
Like Colorado, Vermont earned robust ratings in four of seven categories, but a relative shortage of available hospital beds earned it a frail classification in that category.
“While Wisconsin was only rated as robust in two of seven categories, it was either average or healthy in all the other five,” according to Barrington.
A rating of frail for available nursing home capacity was the only below-average grade for Minnesota.
6. (tie) Nebraska
Consistency helped Nebraska make the top 10, as it was rated average or better in all seven categories.
6. (tie) Washington
Like Nebraska, Washington made the top 10 by delivering average or better results in all seven categories.
Ratings of robust in three of seven categories helped Iowa, though its one weakness was a frail rating for the number of patient care doctors per capita.
“The good news for Hawaii is that it is number one in longevity, and also rated as robust for health insurance coverage,” says Barrington. “The only downside is that low availability of hospital beds earned it a critical rating in that category.”
The overall ranking for Connecticut was pulled up by robust ratings for longevity and patient care doctors per capita. “However, the state does have some capacity issues, with a frail rating for nursing home availability and a critical rating for availability of hospital beds,” Barrington says.