The Healthiest States in the U.S., Mapped
If you live in Massachusetts, pat yourself on the back. The state is the healthiest in the nation, according to the 2017 America’s Health Rankings, the United Health Foundation’s annual report on public health in the United States, spotted by Thrillist. The Bay State climbed up the ladder this year from second place, unseating Hawaii, which had held the top spot for the past five years.
The United Health Foundation’s health rankings, now in their 28th year, aim to provide a benchmark for public health across the U.S. Access to healthcare varies widely depending on where you live, and the rankings hammer that point home, as you can see from the graphic below.
The rankings determine the results based on 35 factors including physician availability, environmental conditions, community policies, and health outcome data to score states.
The healthiest states in the nation, according to the foundation’s findings, are Massachusetts, Hawaii, Vermont, Utah, and Connecticut. Mississippi is the most unhealthy state in the nation by these measures, followed by Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, and West Virginia—underscoring previous research [PDF] that has found that the South has some of the worst public health outcomes in the nation.
Let’s say you’re looking for mental health treatment and you live in Massachusetts. You have more choice than residents of any other state when it comes to providers—there are more than 547 per 100,000 residents. Compare that to the choice in Alabama, where there are only 85 mental health providers for the same number of people. Eastern seaboard states like New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have more than 200 primary care doctors per 100,000 people, whereas Utah and Idaho have less than 100 doctors per 100,000 residents.
The rankings are meant to help states determine where they have room to improve in their public health initiatives. Where does your state fall?