Report shows Washington health care is average, depending on category

A new report from WalletHub shows that Washington ranks average compared to all other states, but that this ranking is a result of balancing high rankings in some categories, with low rankings in others. The report looks at each state’s health care in terms of access, affordability, and a series of health outcomes. Each state receives an overall rank, and is also ranked categorically. 

Washington received a total score of 49.85, resulting in an overall all ranking of 32, putting the state almost directly in the center for health care in the nation. This ranking is a result of combination scores in three categories: cost, access and outcomes. 

The state ranks 48th in terms of cost, 44th in access, and 11th in terms of outcomes. 

The report examines 33 metrics from a number of different data pools to calculate these rankings. The CDC, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and CMS are included in the list of data providers. 

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Metrics include: the full weight cost of medical care per visit, average monthly insurance premium cost, and the share of individuals who do not visit a doctor due to high cost. 

The report also looks at the number of hospital beds per capita, average emergency room wait time, Medicare and Medicaid acceptance rates, status of ACA innovation waivers, and the presence of telehealth in the state. When looking at overall outcomes the report examines: infant, child, and maternal mortality rates, dental visit rates, immunization rates, and hospital readmittance rates, to name a few. 

Washington has access and cost rankings in the bottom ten percent of the nation, while overall health outcomes are near the top ten percent. 

The state ranks 49th for the number of hospital beds per capita. Washington DC, Mississippi and Arkansas are the top three in this category. The trending population increase to the state may be a factor in this ranking. The state’s population recently topped state population charts at 7.6 million. 

On the other hand, the state ranks 2nd overall for having one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the nation. Mississippi, Arkansas and DC make up the bottom three, a complete opposite trend from the rankings in per capita hospital beds. 

Infant mortality rates are used as indicators of the overall effectiveness of a health system. It is noteworthy that Washington has high marks in overall health outcomes, despite low marks in access and cost categories. This low infant mortality rate may be a factor in the high health outcomes score.

Minnesota, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington DC, and Vermont round out the top 5 states for overall health care. Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Alaska are the 5 worst states for overall health care, according to the report. 

While the legislative session is over, these data points can be utilized during the interim in planning and drafting future legislation.