Top spots in the recently released U.S. News & World Report state health rankings went to Hawaii (1), Massachusetts (2), Minnesota (3), New Hampshire (4) and Iowa (5).
Rounding out the bottom of the rankings were Arkansas (50), Mississippi (49), Oklahoma (48), Alabama (47) and West Virginia (46).
- U.S. News & World Report partnered with McKinsey & Company and relied on data from CMS and CDC to develop overall rankings based on performance in healthcare quality, access, and public health.
Rankings such as these can generally be taken with a grain of salt, but the results from U.S. News & World Report rankings provide a useful resource for those with a stake in healthcare, including researchers, policymakers and journalists
States that have passed legislation or committed resources to improve their health systems tended to be ranked higher than others. The top spot went to Hawaii, where a longstanding law from the 1970s helps to keep uninsured rates low. Coming in at second was Massachusetts, which passed its own version of health reform in 2006.
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.
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.