Special Report

The Healthiest City in Each State

Grant Suneson

Source: sorincolac / Getty Images

11. Hawaii: Urban Honolulu
> Premature death rate: 270.3 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 22.2%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 4.4%
> Median household income: $80,513

Urban Honolulu beat out the only other metropolitan statistical area in Hawaii — Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina — for the spot as the healthiest in the state, though both are among the healthiest in the U.S. Workers in Urban Honolulu are among the most likely to be employed, likely contributing to their overall good health, as economic instability and poverty are often linked with poor health outcomes. The unemployment rate in the area is just 2.2%, the second-lowest in the country.

The average adult in Urban Honolulu has 2.9 mentally unhealthy days and 2.9 physically unhealthy days per month — both averages are among the ten best in the country. Some 4.4% of Urban Honolulu residents under the age of 65 are uninsured, one of the lowest rates anywhere in the country and less than half of the nationwide rate of 11.0%. This high rate of insured residents likely allows those in Urban Honolulu to treat medical problems more quickly and effectively than in many other places nationwide.

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12. Idaho: Boise City
> Premature death rate: 276.4 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 28.4%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 12.8%
> Median household income: $55,162

The Boise City metro area leads the state of Idaho in a number of key health outcomes. Its premature death rate of 276 per 100,000 is much lower than anywhere else in the state. The area also has the lowest percentage of adults who report being in either fair or poor health at 14.1%, though most other parts of Idaho also fall below the national rate of 16.0%. Some 18.5% of Boise City adults got at least some exercise during their leisure time, the best rate in the state and one of the better rates in the country.

As people continue to advance in age, it can become more difficult for them to manage their health. But Boise City Medicare enrollees, who are overwhelmingly above the age of 65, are among the best at treating certain conditions such as diabetes or dehydration before they become serious and require emergency treatment. There were just 24.7 preventable hospitalizations for every 1,000 Medicare enrollees in Boise City. That rate is the lowest in Idaho and just over half the U.S. rate of 49.0 per 1,000.

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13. Illinois: Bloomington
> Premature death rate: 294.9 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 29.0%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 5.5%
> Median household income: $61,320

At just 5.5%, the Bloomington, Illinois metro area has the lowest uninsured rate in the state, which is half the national rate of 11.0%. The uninsured rate is one of many strong economic indicators in the Bloomington area that can contribute to the overall health of the population.

Other than the Chicago metro area, Bloomington is the only place in Illinois with a median household income above the national median of $57,617.

The relatively high income may be partially attributable to the fact that the Bloomington area has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.1%. Children in the area are much less likely to live in poverty than those anywhere else in Illinois. Just 12.4% of Bloomington-area children are impoverished. The next lowest rate in the state is 17.3%. Across the U.S., one in every five children is impoverished.

Source: John Schanlaub / Wikimedia Commons

14. Indiana: Lafayette-West Lafayette
> Premature death rate: 330.8 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 29.0%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 11.0%
> Median household income: $51,410

The Lafayette-West Lafayette metro area in Indiana has the lowest smoking rate in the state. However, at 17.5%, that smoking rate is 0.5 percentage points higher than the national average. Smokers are more likely to develop lung and heart problems. Pregnant women who use tobacco risk causing birth defects and giving birth to children with low birth weight.

Babies born with low birth weights are at a higher risk for a number of health issues. With a 6.9% low birth weight rate, babies born in the Lafayette-West Lafayette metro area are the least likely to be underweight compared to those born anywhere else in Indiana.

Source: Ron Reiring / Wikimedia Commons

15. Iowa: Ames
> Premature death rate: 241.8 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 27.0%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: N/A
> Median household income: $53,371

The Ames, Iowa metro area is not just the healthiest place in the state, but also one of the healthiest in the country. The premature mortality rate of 242 deaths per 100,000 residents is among the lowest in the country and roughly two thirds of the national rate of 363 per 100,000.

Some 5.6% of babies born in the area have a low birthweight, one of the lowest rates in the nation. Being a teen mother increases the risk of having an underweight baby, and the Ames area has the second-lowest teen birth rate in the country. Just 4.5 out of every 1,000 births come from mothers age 15-19. By comparison, the next lowest rate in Iowa is more than twice as high at 9.6 per 1,000 births. The U.S. teen birth rate is six times higher than that in Ames, at 27.0 per 1,000 births.