Health Care Varies From State to State

THURSDAY Oct. 8, 2009 -- Want cheaper health care? Consider moving across the state line.

A new report finds that health-care costs, quality and the ability of people to access care vary widely, depending on where you live. And compared with two years ago, the gap is widening in some places.

The findings come from a state-by-state scorecard on health care issued by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System.

The researchers found that:

  • Fewer adults are covered by health insurance in most states compared with 2007.
  • Health-care costs are rising.
  • Most states are doing a better job of covering children because of the federal Children's Health Insurance Program.
  • Hospitals and nursing homes have dramatically improved in some areas.

The top-performing states, according to the report, are Vermont, Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, Maine and New Hampshire.

"Leading states have raised the bar for better access, quality of care and reducing disparities," Cathy Schoen, Commonwealth Fund senior vice president and a study co-author, said in a news release from the organization. "Where you live in the U.S. matters in terms of your health care, and it shouldn't."

Major variations surfaced. In Nevada, for example, 23 percent of Medicare beneficiaries returned to hospitals within 30 days of their last stay. The number was only 13 percent in Oregon.

And in Mississippi, a third of adult diabetics got the recommended preventive care, compared with two-thirds in Minnesota.

"The differences we see among the states translate to real lives and dollars," Karen Davis, Commonwealth Fund president, said in the news release. "If we can enact health reforms that give all states the opportunity to do as well as the best states, we will save lives, improve quality and cut costs."

More information

The Kaiser Family Foundation has more state health data.

Posted: October 2009


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