If women crossed state lines for better health care, roughly 50% of the American population would end up somewhere in New England. That's because residency has a big impact on quality of health care.
So says a new analysis from HealthCareInsider, which compared all 50 states and Washington D.C. on cost, access and quality measurements to determine which states provide the best health care for women.
“I am really proud of this study because we took a more granular approach by boiling down specific quality measurements to see if there were any interesting data points we could learn from, rather than just ranking healthcare overall,” research head Colleen McGuire told The Whipp.
The U.S. health care system for women is broken. Care paucity, rising health care costs in comparison to men and subpar care are only some of the issues affecting women’s health today. From state and federal legislation that curb women’s reproductive rights to high maternal mortality rates to Medicaid coverage issues, women are put through the wringer. Women of color are especially impacted because they are less likely to be insured or have access to care. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only underscored the need for better care for women.
“There is not enough access to quality care,” McGuire said. “In particular, reproductive health services, especially abortion services, are not available to women due to societal stigma and changing state laws.”
Several interesting facts emerged from the analysis. Of the top 10 states with the best health care, six states belong to New England. And of the bottom 10 states, six belong to the South. D.C. ranked first in cost, while Texas came in last. Maryland ranked the best in health care access, and Idaho was the worst. Massachusetts and Connecticut tied for best in quality of care and Oklahoma was ranked last.
Here are the top 10 states with the best health care:
Even though Massachusetts ranked first overall, several states had higher scores for cost and access. The Bay State and Connecticut tied for quality. Maryland, which ranked third overall, has better access to health care providers. And D.C. ranks 11th overall, but the Capital ranks third worst in the country on quality.
“It’s a reminder that just because you live in a state that ranks well overall, you need to look at all factors of medical services to get the best view of what you could expect for overall care,” McGuire told The Whipp.
Approximately 90 abortion restrictions have been enacted as of July 1 this year, and the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. On September 1, Texas will implement a bill that prohibits abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is at approximately six weeks of pregnancy. Labeled dystopian by critics, the law will allow “any person” other than the government to sue someone who provides an abortion after six weeks or helps someone obtain an abortion after six weeks or someone who intends to get an abortion, The law does not allow abortion patients to be sued. In addition, women face challenges with access to birth control across the country.
What Women Should Do
Women should navigate health care with a “wide-angle lens,” McGuire told the Whipp, and conduct thorough research before settling on a physician or a treatment facility. A five-star review on a physician’s bedside manner does not mean patients will receive the best outcomes when it comes to subsequent visits or hospital stays.
“Women are repeatedly told they are ‘bossy’ or ‘witchy’ if they speak their minds or ask questions,” McGuire said. “But that narrative needs to change and women need to stand up for their right to quality health care. No one else will do it for them.”
Additionally, women should educate themselves regarding screening examinations. Annual well-woman visits, mammograms, Diabetes and cancer screenings, as well as cardiovascular health screenings are all important to maintain good health. These screenings are generally covered by insurance companies. Uninsured women can always contact their local health department to see if they can get preventive health care for a low cost.
Some of the other findings in the analysis include:
Annual Cost of Care: Best—Mississippi; Worst—D.C.
Uninsured Rate: Best—D.C.; Worst—Texas
Childbirth Medical Expenses: Best—D.C.; Worst—Wisconsin
Percent of Women with Health Insurance (age 18-64): Best—Iowa; Worst—Texas
Pregnant Women Medicaid Eligibility Level: Best—Iowa; Worst—South Dakota
Abortion Clinics Per Capita: Best—Maine; Worst—Idaho
Percent of Women Who Report Having a Pap Smear in the Last 3 Years: Best—Connecticut Worst—Idaho
Mammography Rates in the Last 2 Years: Best—Massachusetts; Worst—Wyoming
Adequacy of Prenatal Care: Best—Vermont; Worst—Colorado
Maternal Mortality Rate: Best—D.C.; Worst—Louisiana
Find the full rankings here.