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Best states for health care

  • Best states for health care

    The average American spends more than $10,000 on health coverage each year—but what you get for your money depends a lot on where you live. The types of coverage you can receive in each state changes based on how federal subsidies are used and which insurance companies are available. These differences affect what services you can access and what you will pay out-of-pocket. And with single-payer health care gaining steam as a viable idea, it's fairly safe to expect health care will be evolving significantly in the years to come. For now, it's anyone's guess whether the Affordable Care Act will be overturned or stay in place. The answer may end up being different state-by-state.

    In order to take a closer look at which U.S. states offer the best health care, Stacker gathered data from a WalletHub analysis of health care that ranked each of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. The WalletHub rankings, using data from Aug. 5, 2019, were created by scoring various health-care factors related to cost, access, and outcomes in each state—as well as by surveying health-care experts about topics that included insurers, health-care reform, and expenditures.

    Measuring cost included factors, such as average monthly premiums and the cost of a dental visit. Access rankings looked at the state's number of emergency responders, the number of insured adults, and average emergency room wait time. Ranking medical outcomes was a measure of life expectancy, infant mortality, and heart disease rate. How each state scored in terms of cost, access, and outcomes determined its total score.

    WalletHub evaluated the results for each state across cost, access, and outcomes based on a 40-metric, weighted system with corresponding points based on a 100-point scale. A score of 100 indicated top-notch health care at the best value. The following 26 locations hit the top of the list. Keep reading to find out whether your state made the cut.

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  • #26. Illinois

    - Healthcare score: 52.2
    - Cost rank: #24
    - Access rank: #23
    - Outcomes rank: #32

    Tens of thousands of Illinois residents are currently struggling without access to health care, thanks to a Medicaid backlog. The Chicago Sun-Times's Becky Z. Dernbach reported last year that more than 112,000 applications are still unprocessed past the government's 45-day limit. When that happens, applicants are supposed to get temporary medical coverage cards—but those are in a backlog, too.

  • #25. Ohio

    - Healthcare score: 52.22
    - Cost rank: #10
    - Access rank: #22
    - Outcomes rank: #37

    Ohio ranks near the top of the list for states where most adults have seen a doctor in the last two years, in spite of the state facing a physician shortage. A bill was recently passed to help change that by allowing nurse practitioners to do more with patients than they're presently allowed.

  • #24. New York

    - Healthcare score: 52.26
    - Cost rank: #29
    - Access rank: #24
    - Outcomes rank: #29

    Voters in New York had high hopes that 2019 would be the year of single-payer health care. But legislators "face an uphill climb" for 2020, according to Politico's Shannon Young, who cites several leaders, including Gov. Cuomo, who have yet to sign on to the some $200 billion price tag. Meanwhile, the state has some of the most physicians per capita—though comparatively little accept Medicare—and cancer rates are fairly high.

  • #23. New Jersey

    - Healthcare score: 53.39
    - Cost rank: #14
    - Access rank: #30
    - Outcomes rank: #28

    New Jersey has both good and bad going for it. The state has one of the lowest infant mortality rates, but also one of the highest cancer rates. New Jersey is trying to engage younger people in their health, though, to set an example as they get older. Recently several hospitals came together to organize a social aimed at wellness for college students.

  • #22. Nebraska

    - Healthcare score: 53.64
    - Cost rank: #43
    - Access rank: #10
    - Outcomes rank: #17

    Funding for health care continues to be an issue in Nebraska; however, the University of Nebraska Medical Center may receive $300 million in state funding for a new health-care project and campus complex in response to the coronavirus. Part of the idea is the creation of jobs as well as health-care training, which one senator called a potential "game-changer" for the state.

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  • #21. Virginia

    - Healthcare score: 54.63
    - Cost rank: #25
    - Access rank: #35
    - Outcomes rank: #12

    The governor of Virginia has helped to increase access to quality, affordable health care for everyone in the state. In October, Ralph Northam signed Executive Directive Five, which also strategizes ways "to reduce health insurance premiums statewide, and protect Virginians from federal uncertainty."

  • #20. Michigan

    - Healthcare score: 55.09
    - Cost rank: #6
    - Access rank: #18
    - Outcomes rank: #30

    Although Michigan has fairly decent health care, the state is still facing problems from obesity, inactive adults, and lower death ages than other parts of the country. Part of the issue is that Michigan spends relatively little on education for health-care issues, like vaccinations and screenings.

  • #19. Utah

    - Healthcare score: 55.12
    - Cost rank: #32
    - Access rank: #41
    - Outcomes rank: #8

    Utah's relatively high ranking on this list might come as a surprise, given that the state has few hospital beds per capita and few physicians per capita. According to a study by Altarum Healthcare Value Hub, over half of Utah residents have difficulty affording health care. "The most commonly reported burden, by 47% of Utah adults, was having to change their prescribed medications because of the cost," per the report.

  • #18. South Dakota

    - Healthcare score: 55.15
    - Cost rank: #17
    - Access rank: #15
    - Outcomes rank: #24

    In 2016, South Dakota ranked in the top five states for the usage of telemedicine for health concerns. But by the next year, it sank to the lowest five, with patients opting to use in-person clinics. According to MoneyRates, despite the state receiving some of the worst marks for health insurance affordability, it is buoyed by high marks in hospital affordability. 

  • #17. Montana

    - Healthcare score: 55.44
    - Cost rank: #21
    - Access rank: #19
    - Outcomes rank: #18

    Montana ranks high for states with the most dentists per capita, but that doesn't relieve other issues like a lack of resources for mental health care and substance abuse treatment. In February, however, Greg Gianforte, the state's member in the House of Representatives, introduced the National Telehealth Strategy and Data Advancement Act to expand telehealth services, while in December he introduced a bill to help lower drug prices and hold pharmacy benefit managers accountable.

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