Healthcare Delivery Differs Across the States

Healthcare needs HelpThe way healthcare is delivered from state to state shows wide variations in cost and quality of care.  According to a recent study by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, those disparities highlight the difficulty in reforming healthcare – the United States has at least 50 healthcare systems, not just one.  And each has its own social, demographic and economic characteristics.

Generally speaking, the rankings correlate with income and access to insurance, said Cathy Schoen, one of the study’s authors.  “Access and quality are tightly related.  People who don’t have much access receive much lower levels of preventive care.  We need federal action to raise the floor (for minimum coverage) across the country.  The states are not going to be able to do that on their own.”

The highest ranking states tend to be wealthier, though there were interesting exceptions.  Maine, for example, ranks 35th in median household income and 28th in people living in poverty.  Yet is ranks fifth in the Commonwealth study, partly because Maine is one of the few states that extends Medicaid coverage to adults without children.

Illinois fell from 32nd to 42nd place, a slippage caused in part by declines in quality measures, such as the number of nursing home residents needing hospitalization and of patients re-admitted after discharge from hospitals.

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