WalletHub on Monday released its 2022 list of the "Best & Worst States for Health Care," ranking Rhode Island as No. 1.
For the report, WalletHub used 42 measures to assess each state and the District of Columbia on health care cost, access, and outcomes. WalletHub weighted the three categories equally, though some categories included more metrics than others. For example:
- The cost category includes metrics on the cost of a medical visit, average monthly insurance premium, average hospital expenses per day as an inpatient at community hospitals, and the share of adults who did not see the doctor because of affordability issues.
- The access category includes metrics on hospital beds per capita, urgent care centers per capita, adoption of telehealth services, and average ED wait time.
- The outcomes category includes metrics on infant mortality rate, share of patients who did not receive patient-centered care, cancer incidence rate, and share of at-risk adults with no routine doctor visit in the last two years.
WalletHub graded each metric on a 100-point scale and calculated a weighted average for each state. Having a higher score represented having better care at a reasonable price.
According to WalletHub, after Rhode Island, which scored 65.12 out of 100, the states with the best health care systems for 2022 were:
2. Massachusetts, which scored 65.03
3. Hawaii, which scored 63.30
4. Minnesota, which scored 62.60
5. Maryland, which scored 62.18
By contrast, the states at the bottom of the rankings were:
51. Mississippi, which scored 40.86
50. Alabama, which scored 41.27
49. Louisiana, which scored 42.81
48. Oklahoma, which scored 43.25
47. Arkansas, which scored 44.30
WalletHub also ranked states and the District of Columbia individually on the three categories, with:
- Maryland ranking first for cost and Alaska ranking last
- Massachusetts ranking first for access and Alabama ranking last
- Massachusetts ranking first for outcomes and Mississippi ranking last
In addition, WalletHub highlighted the highest- and lowest-performing states on various metrics. For instance:
- Average monthly insurance premiums were lowest in Utah and tied for highest in West Virginia and Wyoming
- The District of Columbia had the most hospital beds per capita, while Utah had the fewest
- The infant mortality rate was lowest in Vermont and highest in Mississippi
- The District of Columbia had the most physicians per capita, while Idaho had the fewest
WalletHub spoke with eight health care experts and asked them four "key questions" Americans should consider as they "anticipate changes to their health care in both the short and long terms."
When asked what Americans can do to minimize health-related expenditures, experts recommended obtaining health insurance, taking advantage of the new health care transparency requirements by comparing prices for health care services, and acknowledging the importance of healthy behaviors, prevention measures, and general wellness.
"Individually, one of the best steps that we can take to minimize health-related expenditures is to recognize the importance of healthy behaviors, disease prevention, and overall wellness," said Christopher Plein of West Virginia University. "Collectively, we need to recognize the barriers that hinder wellness and prevention and those that contribute to poor health status and condition."
When asked about the key issues facing health care in 2022, many experts highlighted inflation as a top concern. They also noted a range of other challenges, including the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, worker shortages and burnout, information privacy issues, and high out-of-pocket costs. (McCann, "2022's Best & Worst States for Health Care," WalletHub, 8/1)