States with the Fewest (and Most) Doctors
> Doctors per 100,000 people: 272.1
> Medical students per 100,000 people: 38.7 (14th highest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 10.1% (10th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 78.7 years (24th highest)
Maine does not fit the traditional mold of a state with a high ratio of physicians per capita — highest than all but four states. While most states with a high concentration of doctors had relatively wealthy populations, the median income in Maine was just under $46,000, the 19th lowest among states. Also, while a large number of doctors in residency is often indicative of how many doctors will work there, Maine had just 23.6 doctors in residence per 100,000 people, compared to the national rate of 35.8 per 100,000. However, more than half of these residents stayed in the state to practice, one of only 13 states where this was the case.
> Doctors per 100,000 people: 273.0
> Medical students per 100,000 people: 25.0 (23rd lowest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 9.1% (5th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 80.2 years (5th highest)
After medical school, many potential doctors choose to perform their residency in Connecticut. The state’s residency programs are quite popular, with an estimated 59.7 residents for every 100,000 people in the state — more than in all but three other states. Connecticut’s top hospital, according to U.S. News and World Report, is Yale-New Haven Hospital, which is rated well in 17 specialties. Among the potential appeals of practicing in Connecticut: only 9.1% of people living in the state were uninsured in 2010, one of the lowest rates in the nation.
3. New York
> Doctors per 100,000 people: 277.4
> Medical students per 100,000 people: 49.4 (7th highest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 11.9% (15th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 80.4 years (4th highest)
New York is home to 68,042 practicing physicians, 54,306 of whom are active patient care physicians, more than any state except for California. With its 13 accredited medical schools the state can more easily attracts doctors since these schools provide residency opportunities. New York has also attracted many overseas-trained physicians. Just over 26,000 of the practicing physicians were trained outside of the U.S., accounting for 38.3% of the total physician population. This is the second-highest percentage of overseas-trained doctors after New Jersey’s 39.1%.
> Doctors per 100,000 people: 281.0
> Medical students per 100,000 people: 33.8 (17th highest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 11.3% (13th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 78.1 years (18th lowest)
Maryland hosts three medical schools, including the prestigious Johns Hopkins University. There were 44.6 doctors in the state completing residency or fellowship for every 100,000 people, the eighth-largest ratio in the country. Maryland’s wealthy population is likely very attractive to doctors. Median income in the state was $68,854, nearly $19,000 higher than the U.S. average. Of the state’s physicians, 35.4% were women, a higher percentage than any state but Massachusetts. Despite its high rate of doctors and wealthy population, the state has a higher-than-average rate of deaths due to heart disease, a higher-than-average infant mortality rate, and a lower-than-average life expectancy.
> Doctors per 100,000 people: 314.8
> Medical students per 100,000 people: 45.0 (8th highest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 4.4% (the lowest)
> Life expectancy: 80.1 years (6th highest)
Massachusetts has the lowest uninsured rate in the country because of the near-universal health coverage enacted back in 2006. The wide coverage helped attract doctors to practice in the state since they reap far more money on insured patients than on uninsured ones. Massachusetts also spent more than $9,200 on health care for each resident, more than any other state. The state’s residents were clearly healthier than the U.S. population as a whole. Only 14.1% of state residents were smokers, the fourth-lowest percentage in the country. And although about six in 10 adults were either overweight or obese, it was the fifth-lowest rate in the U.S. and nearly four percentage points below the national rate.
Samuel Weigley, Alexander E.M. Hess and Michael B. Sauter