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The Healthiest States & The Unhealthiest States for Children in the USA: New Rankings


Your children's health could be impacted by the state in which you live, according to the latest findings from The Commonwealth Fund. Their State Scorecard found wide variations in how well different states promote the health and development of their children.

healthiest states

Iowa and Vermont topped the list of healthy states for kids.

The analysis reviewed 13 indicators of child health system performance by state based on the following factors:

  • Access to health care

  • Quality of health care

  • Cost of health care

  • The potential to lead healthy lives

Thirteen states made up the top-quartile of the Commonwealth Fund's Scorecard. These were:

  1. Iowa

  2. Vermont

  3. Maine

  4. Massachusetts

  5. Ohio

  6. Hawaii

  7. New Hampshire

  8. Rhode Island

  9. Kentucky

  10. Kansas

  11. Wisconsin

  12. Michigan

  13. Nebraska

Meanwhile, in the bottom quartile were 13 states that the report said "lag well behind their peers on multiple indicators across dimensions:"

  1. Illinois

  2. New Mexico

  3. New Jersey

  4. Alaska

  5. Oregon

  6. Arkansas

  7. Nevada

  8. Texas

  9. Arizona

  10. Louisiana

  11. Mississippi

  12. Florida

  13. Oklahoma

The report found that if all states performed as well as those at the top:

healthiest states

The Scorecard only assesses children's health care systems; it does not assess other factors that impact health like air pollution, diet and exercise.

  • An additional 4.6 million children nationwide would have health insurance

  • 11.8 million more children would get their recommended yearly medical and dental check-ups;

  • 10.9 million more children would have a "medical home" -- a regular source of care

  • 1.6 million fewer children would be at risk for developmental delays

In terms of improvement, report co-author and Commonwealth Fund Vice President Dr. Edward Schor said, "In looking at the country as a whole, we found that, while there are pockets of excellence, there is no one state or region that is doing as well as it could be."

The improve children's health the report recommended:

  • Adequate funding for state children's health insurance to expand coverage for children.

  • National policies that allow families to afford health care and to be able to match benefits to children's needs.

  • Standards for health care that ensure all children have access to high-quality care.

  • More funding for research and data collection to allow more detailed and accurate picture of state-by-state performance on children's health.

Of course, the rankings are based largely on the performance of the health care system and assume that conventional health care leads to greater health. The report does not take into account more traditional signs of children's health, such as access to healthy food, physical activity, air pollution or exposure to toxins.

Recommended Reading

Should Young Girls Get the HPV Vaccine? An Update of the Issues

Food Allergies Last Longer Than They Used To: Food Allergy Facts You Need to Know


The Commonwealth Fund May 28, 2008

Medical News Today May 28, 2008

Medline Plus May 28, 2008

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