Healthcare Economy

America's Most (and Least) Healthy States

5. New Hampshire
> Pct. obese: 27.3% (22nd lowest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 218.9 (8th lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 133.6 (10th lowest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 73.1% (5th highest)

An impoverished population often suffers from poorer health because poor residents are less likely to be able to afford care or to be well informed of good health practices. New Hampshire’s extremely low poverty rate may be a key reason the state is one of the healthiest in the country. Just 10% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2012, the lowest rate of any state. The state had one of the lowest rates of deaths from cardiovascular disease in the country. The state also had one of the lowest rates of premature death in the country. One factor affecting the health of New Hampshire residents may be the healthy choices they make. The state had one of the highest rates of healthy eating habits and visits to the dentist, both of which are tied to good health.

ALSO READ: The 10 Worst States for Women

4. Massachusetts
> Pct. obese: 22.9% (2nd lowest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 217.7 (5th lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 196.1 (the highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 76.2% (the highest)

Massachusetts had the second lowest obesity rate in the country last year at just 22.9%, compared with more than 27% nationwide. The state’s health care system has provided a model for the federal health care reforms. More than 96% of the state’s population had health insurance, considerably better than any other state in the nation. And Massachusetts residents used their coverage. A higher rate of the population had their cholesterol checked and went to the dentist than in any other state. The state also benefits from the availability of primary care physicians. In 2011, there were nearly 200 physicians per 100,000 residents. Additionally, a greater percentage of adolescents in Massachusetts were immunized than in all but one other state.

3. Minnesota
> Pct. obese: 25.7% (13th lowest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 186.9 (the lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 143.5 (7th highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 74.8% (3rd highest)

Last year, less than 12% of Minnesotans described their health as poor or fair, the lowest percentage of any state. Minnesota had the fewest deaths per 100,000 people from cardiovascular diseases in the nation from 2008 through 2010, and was tied for the nation’s fourth lowest rate for diabetes last year. Just 6.4% of infants born in 2011 had low birth weight, lower than all but five states. Also, Minnesota’s infant mortality rate was lower than any other state except for New Hampshire. Infant mortality may be tied to health care access, as in Minnesota less than 9% of the population lacked health coverage from 2011 through 2012, versus 15.6% nationally.

ALSO READ: 10 States With The Worst Health Coverage

2. Vermont
> Pct. obese: 23.7% (5th lowest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 220.8 (10th lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 170.9 (4th highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 70.8% (11th highest)

Drug use in Vermont has escalated in recent years. The state had one of the highest rates of illicit drug use in 2010 and 2011. In particular, heroin has been flowing into the state at an alarming pace. Despite this problem, the state’s population was very healthy. A greater proportion of Vermonters reported they were in good health than in any state except Minnesota. Residents also have access to better care. The state had a near-universal health plan, with more than 93% of the population covered by health insurance, tied for the second highest rate in the country. There are also more primary care physicians per capita in Vermont than all but a few states.

1. Hawaii
> Pct. obese: 23.6% (3rd lowest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 209.0 (3rd lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 139.4 (9th highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 70.4% (12th highest)

Hawaii is the healthiest state in the nation. Like many of the country’s healthiest states, obesity was extremely low in the state, as were the rates of many of the serious diseases that tend to accompany obesity, such as diabetes. Just 2.8% of adults had heart disease in 2012, the second-smallest proportion in the country. Hawaiians also had among the lowest rates of death in the country from cardiovascular diseases and cancer. One reason state residents are in good health may be the high level of access to care. The state had a high concentration of dentists and physicians per capita. Also, just 7.8% of the population did not have health insurance, compared to 15.6% of the population nationally.

Click here to see the least healthy states

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