Special Report

America's Most (and Least) Healthy States

4. Connecticut
> Pct. obese: 24.9% (8th highest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 216.5 (11th lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 166.7 (6th highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 79.1 (6th highest)

Connecticut had one of the nation’s lowest smoking rates, at just 15.5% of the adult population. The state also had one of the lowest obesity rates in the United States, at just under 25% of the adult population. In recent decades these rates have moved in opposite directions. Just as in the rest of the country, smoking rates in Connecticut have declined, while obesity rates have risen. The state also fared well in health determinants related to both policy and clinical care. The child immunization rate of 78.2% and the adolescent immunization rate of 73.8% were both among the highest in the nation. Further, Connecticut had the sixth highest concentrations of both primary care doctors and dentists, at 166.7 and 79.1 per 100,000 people, respectively.

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3. Massachusetts
> Pct. obese: 23.6% (3rd highest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 206.9 (4th lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 200.8 (the highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 85.6 (the highest)

Massachusetts had the lowest rate of people without health care coverage in the nation, at just 3.8% of the population. By comparison, nearly 15% of all Americans lacked health insurance. In addition to having a largely insured population, Massachusetts also had the highest concentration of primary care physicians in the U.S., at more than 200 for every 100,000 residents, as well as the highest concentration of dentists, at 85.6 per 100,000 people. Low rates of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity also helped residents stay healthy. High levels of immunization, too, helped promote good health. More than 78% of young children aged received the recommended doses of key vaccines. Immunization coverage among adolescents was also quite high, at 74.6%.

2. Vermont
> Pct. obese: 24.7% (7th lowest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 218.4 (13th lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 170.9 (4th highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 60.0 (21st highest)

Vermont, which consistently ranks among the healthiest states, trails only Hawaii for the third consecutive year. While poor diet and physical inactivity are major contributors to poor health, both were relatively uncommon behaviors among Vermonters. Residents consumed more than two servings of vegetables daily on average, and nearly 80% exercised regularly, both higher figures than in all but a few states. In addition, less than 7% of residents did not have health insurance last year, nearly the best coverage rate nationwide. State residents also perceived their own health better than residents of any other state, with nearly 62% claiming they were in excellent health. However, incidents of infectious diseases like pertussis, or whooping cough — the prevalence of which increased across the nation — was relatively common in Vermont.

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1. Hawaii
> Pct. obese: 21.8% (2nd lowest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 199.1 (3rd lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 140.2 (9th highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 79.2 (5th highest)

Hawaii is, again, the healthiest state in the nation. A major reason is Hawaii’s dedication to promoting good health through policy. Just 6.8% of Hawaii’s population was not insured last year, tied for second-best nationwide, and the state provided more than $212 per person in public health funding per person, behind only Alaska. By comparison, nearly 15% of Americans across the country were uninsured and, on average, states’ public health funding totalled just $90 per person. Beyond just policy, Hawaiians were among the least likely Americans to be obese or to smoke. Preventable hospitalizations were the lowest in the nation at just 28.2 per 1,000 medicare beneficiaries, compared to 62.9 per 1,000 beneficiaries nationwide. The total effect of these factors has made Hawaii exceptionally healthy. The state had just 199.1 cardiovascular deaths and 155.3 cancer deaths per 100,000 people, both among the lowest rates.

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