Policy-ish

State Variations In Health Remain Wide

In the end, all health care is local. Where you live continues to makes a big difference in your health status, access to care and how much that care costs.

Click on the image for an interactive map. Commonwealth Fund hide caption

itoggle caption Commonwealth Fund

In a state-by-state scorecard put together by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, Vermont comes out at the top of the heap. The Green Mountain state was the only one to score in the top quartile on five key measures: access to care, prevention and treatment, avoidable hospital use and cost, fairness, and health status.

Bottom of the list? Mississippi, which scored in the lowest quartiles across the board.

Some national trends emerged in the report, which follows up on one done two years ago. Since 2007, health insurance coverage for adults deteriorated in most states. But kids' coverage has climbed, mainly due to an expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Hospitals are doing a better job at treating heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia and complications from surgery, as efforts to bolster quality appear to be paying off.

But the gaps between the states doing a good job and those performing more poorly remain wide. If the rest of the country could do as well as the top states, 29 million more people would be insured, halving the national ranks of those without coverage. Almost 78,000 people wouldn't die prematurely. And $5 billion a year would be saved through a reduction in hospital admissions and readmission of the elderly and disabled, too.

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