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Study Ranks Best and Worst States for Health Care Costs, Access

Minnesota takes top honors

With the future of American health care in question as major changes—such as the introduction of “telehealth”––transform the industry, analysts at the personal finance website WalletHub measured the effect of geography on treatment and costs to identify the best state health care systems. The researchers compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of health care costs, health care access, and health outcomes.

Data for the study were obtained from 17 government, nonprofit, and private sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, eHealthInsurance, and the Kaiser Family Foundation. States’ total health care scores were ranked on a scale of 1 to 100.

Minnesota took top honors, with an overall score of 67.37. Alaska was at the bottom of the list, with a score of 39.56. Minnesota also shined as the state with the lowest average monthly insurance premium, whereas Wyoming had the highest premium.

For the study’s key categories of health care costs, health care access, and health outcomes, the best scores went to Maryland, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia, respectively. Alaska ranked worst in the country for health care costs.

Other key findings included:

  • Most hospital beds per capita: District of Columbia
  • Fewest hospital beds per capita: Oregon
  • Most physicians per capita: District of Columbia
  • Fewest physicians per capita: Mississippi
  • Highest physician Medicare acceptance rate: North Dakota
  • Lowest physician Medicare acceptance rate: Hawaii
  • Lowest cancer rate: New Mexico
  • Highest cancer rate: Kentucky
  • Lowest heart disease rate: Colorado
  • Highest heart disease rate: West Virginia
  • Lowest infant mortality rate: California
  • Highest infant mortality rate: Alabama

States that expanded Medicaid under provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act appeared to have a health care edge over states that have resisted Medicaid expansion, the researchers reported. Among the 25 top-ranked states in the study, 17 (68%) had accepted Medicaid expansion. Among the 25 bottom-ranked states, 13 (52%) had expanded the program.

Sources: WalletHub; September 6, 2016; and HealthLeaders Media; September 7, 2016.

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