Best and worst states for kids' health care in 2017

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published September 16, 2017

Key Takeaways

The cost of children’s health care continues to rise. Spending on children’s health care in the United States increased from $149.6 billion in 1996 to $233.5 billion by 2013, according to a study in JAMA. But more health care spending doesn’t necessarily equal better health care. To get a grip on how America takes care of its kids, the financial website WalletHub analyzed many of the factors involved and then ranked states on the health care each one provides to its resident children. 

WalletHub analysts evaluated 28 key indicators of cost, quality, and access to children’s health care in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. They categorized the indicators into three broad categories with differing weights: Kids’ Health & Access to Health Care (weight: 55 points); Kids’ Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (40 points); and Kids’ Oral Health (5 points). They calculated the overall score for each state based on the weighted average across all metrics, and used the resulting scores to construct the final rankings.

Interestingly, the New England states—Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut—ranked best overall for children’s health care. At the bottom of the pack were Nevada, Mississippi, and Arizona. (See top 10 lists below.) 

Here are the top-line (and bottom-line) results:

Overall Best & Worst

  • Best: Vermont ranked number one in the country overall for best health care for children. Vermont came in first place for “Kids’ Health and Access to Health Care” and “Kids’ Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity” categories. It also ranked high in several sub-categories, such as “Highest % of Children Aged 0 to 17 with Medical and Dental Preventive-Care Visits in Past Year.”
  • Worst: Nevada came in dead last overall, and also took last place for “Kids’ Health and Access to Health Care” and “Kids’ Oral Health” categories, and made second-to-last place for “Kids’ Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.” Among sub-categories, Nevada was at the very bottom of the heap for “Highest % of Uninsured Children Aged 0 to 17” and also had the “Lowest % of Children Aged 0 to 17 with Medical and Dental Preventive-Care Visits in Past Year” plus the “Highest % of Children Aged 0 to 17 with Unaffordable Medical Bills.”

Good Health

  • Best: In order, South Dakota, North Dakota, and New Hampshire were the top three states for the “Highest % of Children Aged 0 to 17 in Excellent/Very Good Health.” (Good ol’ Vermont came in at number four.)
  • Worst: California, Nevada, and Arizona had the “Lowest % of Children Aged 0 to 17 in Excellent/Very Good Health.”

Health Insurance

  • Best: Massachusetts came in first in the “Lowest % of Uninsured Children Aged 0 to 17” sub-category, while the District of Columbia and Vermont tied for second place.
  • Worst: As noted above, Nevada nabbed the dubious honor of “Highest % of Uninsured Children Aged 0 to 17,” followed by Alaska and Texas.

Pediatricians by Population

  • Best: District of Columbia, Vermont, and Delaware had the “Most Pediatricians and Family Doctors per Capita.”
  • Worst: West Virginia, Washington, and Alabama had the “Fewest Pediatricians and Family Doctors per Capita.”

Overweight and Obesity

  • Best: New Hampshire and Utah tied for first, followed by Colorado, for the “Lowest % of Overweight Children Aged 10-17.” Meanwhile, Oregon, New Jersey and Idaho had the “Lowest % of Obese Children Aged 10-17.”
  • Worst: States with the “Highest % of Overweight Children Aged 10-17” were North Dakota in first place, Louisiana in second, and New Mexico and Georgia tied for third. Not to be outdone, the states with the “Highest % of Obese Children Aged 10-17” were Mississippi, South Carolina and District of Columbia.

Infant Death Rate

  • Best: New Hampshire, Iowa, and Massachusetts had the “Lowest Infant Death Rate.”
  • Worst: Mississippi, Delaware, and District of Columbia had the “Highest Infant Death Rate.”

Top 10 states by overall rank (total score out of 100)

1. Vermont (72.15)

2. Massachusetts (64.13)

3. Connecticut (61.71)

4. Iowa (61.68)

5. New Hampshire (61.68)

6. Hawaii (59.68)

7. Rhode Island (58.80)

8. Delaware (58.34)

9. District of Columbia (58.00)

10. Minnesota (57.93)

Bottom 10 states by overall rank (total score out of 100)

51. Nevada

50. Mississippi

49. Arizona

48. Alaska

47. Texas

46. Montana

45. Georgia

44. Arkansas

43. South Carolina

42. Oklahoma

Click here to view the full WalletHub report.

Share with emailShare to FacebookShare to LinkedInShare to Twitter
ADVERTISEMENT