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Worst states for health care

  • Worst states for health care

    The average American spends more than $10,000 on health care each year, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But that money isn't necessarily going toward high-quality care. There are stories of patients going in for routine appointments or procedures, only to receive bills later for thousands of dollars; horror stories of surgeries gone wrong; and even a recent spate of violence against health care workers, with shootings inside hospitals and assaults on nurses.

    The state of health care in the United States is in constant flux, making it difficult to know just where the country—or individual states—stand. Meanwhile, health care costs are prohibitive for many people; which can lead to undiagnosed and unaddressed illnesses or injuries that only get worse.

    To take a closer look at how individual states compare when it comes to health care, Stacker gathered data from a WalletHub analysis (data from Aug. 5, 2019). The WalletHub rankings were created by scoring various health care factors related to cost, access, and outcomes in each state—as well as surveying health care experts about topics that included insurers, health care reform, and expenditures. Measuring cost included factors such as the cost of visiting a doctor and average monthly premiums, while access rankings looked at the quality of the public hospital system, the number of doctors per person, and Medicare acceptance rates. Ranking medical outcomes was a measure of mortality, cancer rate, and non-immunized children. 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 25 states hit the bottom of the list and are ranked in this gallery from bad to most severe. Does your home state fall on this list?

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  • #25. Wyoming

    - Health care score: 52.14
    - Cost rank: #36
    - Access rank: #37
    - Outcomes rank: #16

    Bryce Habel is a former Shopko pharmacist in Wyoming. Every day, he drives an 80-mile loop around his county, delivering medication to those who lost the only nearby pharmacy when Shopko went out of business. It's bad news for the state, which already has the second-least amount of physicians per capita.

  • #24. Idaho

    - Health care score: 52.02
    - Cost rank: #30
    - Access rank: #43
    - Outcomes rank: #19

    There's a problem with uncompensated care in Idaho, costs not paid back by the state when uninsured people are treated at the emergency room. In 2017 alone, hospitals in the state lost $294 million due to this, according to the Idaho State Journal. Medicaid expansion may help; but whether it will also help increase the low amount of hospital beds, physicians, and dentists in the state is yet to be seen.

  • #23. Delaware

    - Health care score: 51.79
    - Cost rank: #42
    - Access rank: #27
    - Outcomes rank: #21

    Despite most adult Delawareans keeping up with regular doctor visits, the state still battles with high cancer and infant mortality rates. One issue Delaware is currently facing is “clawbacks,” where insurance companies are allowed to charge patients a higher copay at the pharmacy than the cost of their prescriptions.

  • #22. California

    - Health care score: 51.19
    - Cost rank: #39
    - Access rank: #42
    - Outcomes rank: #20

    Although California has one of the lowest heart disease rates and one of the highest amounts of dentists per capita, the state is still in the midst of a health care crisis. It's said to be expensive and difficult to get, which isn't surprising—about 7 million residents live in official Health Professional Shortage Areas.

  • #21. New Mexico

    - Health care score: 50.95
    - Cost rank: #19
    - Access rank: #31
    - Outcomes rank: #36

    New Mexico has some of the lowest average monthly insurance premiums in the country—but don't let the ranking there fool you. The state is also struggling with incredibly high deductibles, forcing people to skip critical care. New Mexico is also expected to be in the top 10 states with doctor shortages by 2030.

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  • #20. Washington

    - Health care score: 49.85
    - Cost rank: #48
    - Access rank: #44
    - Outcomes rank: #11

    If you think nature is the best cure, head to Washington State; health care providers there are teaming up with Washington State Parks and the nonprofit Park Rx America to prescribe time in nature as part of a care plan. The state's Veterans Affairs office is partaking, noting that time outdoors helps PTSD. This initiative will hopefully bring more people to the doctor—Washington has the second-highest percentage of at-risk adults who haven't seen a doctor in the last two years.

  • #19. Oregon

    - Health care score: 49.43
    - Cost rank: #49
    - Access rank: #29
    - Outcomes rank: #15

    For trans people, Oregon is one of the best states for health. The low-income Oregon Health Plan covers hormone therapy and surgeries, and Oregon Health & Science University has a Transgender Health Program for those not on the state plan. The state faces some challenges, though: costs are rising, leadership is in flux, and the state is among those with the fewest hospital beds per capita in the country.

  • #18. Indiana

    - Health care score: 49.29
    - Cost rank: #9
    - Access rank: #38
    - Outcomes rank: #40

    Amid the national measles outbreak, Indiana is taking a stand and offering vaccinations without a prescription. Health officials released the order after just one confirmed case of measles in the state.

  • #17. Kentucky

    - Health care score: 49.11
    - Cost rank: #16
    - Access rank: #14
    - Outcomes rank: #47

    Kentucky is facing a trifecta of health ailments. The state has the highest cancer rate in the country, the second-highest heart disease rate, and one of the highest rates of stroke-related deaths. It's also one of the top 10 states for opioid deaths—something the medical community there is coming together to help solve.

  • #16. Tennessee

    - Health care score: 48.05
    - Cost rank: #18
    - Access rank: #32
    - Outcomes rank: #42

    Residents in Tennessee are dealing with some unfortunate revelations in their health care system recently. The state is set to be the first to request a Medicaid block grant, which could impact coverage for low-income people. Also, eight health care providers were recently busted for opioid trafficking.

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