Popular states have some of the worst healthcare

Deficiencies in healthcare systems are emerging in states with some of the fastest growing populations. 

And that’s bad news for policymakers, according to David Blumenthal, MD, president of the Commonwealth Fund, and David C. Radley, a senior scientist for the Commonwealth Fund’s Tracking Health System Performance initiative, who penned an editorial for the Harvard Business Review.

Texas, Florida and Georgia have all seen their populations grow over the last several years, according to the 2020 census, and all three states often rank near the bottom when it comes to healthcare.

“This is because these states have large numbers of uninsured adults, high levels of premature death from treatable conditions, less investment in public health, too many people with mental illness unable to get the care they need, and residents facing mounting insurance costs that make healthcare less affordable than in many other parts of the country,” the article states, citing data from the Commonwealth Fund.

Over the last decade, Texas added four million people to its population, making it the fastest growing state. At the same time, the state ranked 42nd overall in a measure of health system performance. The state has still not expanded Medicare under the Affordable Care Act, further impacting the state’s uninsured rate.

The same story is true in Florida, which saw a population boom of three million over the last decade. However, the Sunshine State was only ranked 41st for health system performance, with access and affordability challenges.

Georgia was ranked 46nd by the Commonwealth Fund, and the state has some of the highest premature death and infant mortality rates in the nation.

“Overall, the states that rank at the bottom of the scorecard accounted for half of the aggregate population growth in the United States from 2010 to 2020,” the duo wrote.

The trend is concerning as these states continue to see their populations swell. Policymakers should see the trends as a wakeup call to invest in state and federal policies to develop affordable, high quality healthcare, the authors suggest. Expanding healthcare insurance access is an important step, they noted. 

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