These Were The Most (& Least) Healthy States In 2017

Designed by Abbie Winters.
When you think of the healthiest states in the U.S., what comes to mind? Maybe you think of California where, if you believe the commercials, everyone is always running, swimming, and surfing. Or maybe you think of New York — after all, the state boasts one of the largest cities with plenty of talented doctors.
Neither one of those states, however, even made the top five on the United Health Foundation's 2017 list of America's healthiest states.
Instead, the top honor went to Massachusetts, with Hawaii, Vermont, Utah, and Connecticut following. New York didn't come in until number 10, and California ranked as number 17. That's because the report was looking at more than just how active the state is or how many doctors it has (and also, you have to remember that New York is a lot bigger than just New York City and not everyone in California is running around all the time).
Advertisement
Other factors that went into each state's ranking include things like: smoking, air pollution, how many people are uninsured, drug-related deaths, cancer deaths, STI rates, and infant mortality among others. The report also counted obesity among the health factors, although it's important to remember that a person's weight doesn't necessarily indicate their health.
Although it's the first year that Massachusetts claimed the top spot, it isn't too surprising that the state scored well. Massachusetts General Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best in the nation, and the state is home to several prestigious medical schools (including Tufts and Harvard). It also, according to this report, has one of the lowest rates of uninsured residents at only 2.7%.
In contrast, states like Mississippi, which ranked last, fail in almost every category — especially women's health. As of July, there was only one health clinic in Mississippi that would perform abortions. It should come as no surprise, then, that Mississippi ranked dead last in clinical care on this year's report.
It's obvious that some states would have better healthcare resources than others, of course, so why compare the states at all? According to the report, the authors make this comparison every year in order to set a benchmark. So that we can see how the health of people in the U.S. changes year to year, and where we need to focus more resources and research.
"We're spending more on health care [than other countries] and we die sooner," Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told CNN. "We need to do a time out and figure out how to do this better."
Advertisement
Read on to see where your state ranked.
1 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#1: Massachusetts



Even though Massachusetts ranked high in drug-related deaths, a low rate of uninsured residents and a high number of primary care physicians and mental health care providers helped the state secure the top spot.
2 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#2: Hawaii



Hawaii also ranked high in part because of the number of primary care physicians the state employs as well as a low infant mortality rate.
Advertisement
3 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#3: Vermont



Although Vermont had low scores across the board for health outcomes like cancer deaths, premature deaths, and cardiovascular deaths, the state made it up with good rankings for things like mental health care providers, physical activity, and infectious diseases.
4 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#4: Utah



Utah's high score is thanks in part to low rates of chlamydia in the state, as well as low levels of violent crime and high levels of immunizations among children.
5 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#5: Connecticut



Connecticut ranked high thanks partially to having more than 200 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents, according to the report.
6 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#6: Minnesota



Minnesota had one of the fewest numbers of cancer deaths in the country this year, as well as a small number of drug-related deaths and high levels of physical activity.
7 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#7: Colorado



Colorado shot up three spots in ranking this year, from number 10 last year to number 7 in 2017. The state employs one of the highest number of dentists per number of residents and ranks high for low rates of smoking.
Advertisement
8 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#8: New Hampshire



New Hampshire has the lowest infant mortality rate in the United States, at only 4.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.
9 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#9: Washington



Cancer deaths in Washington dropped significantly since last year, according to the report. The state also has some of the lowest rates of cardiovascular deaths and drug-related deaths.
10 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#10: New York



New York has made the largest gain in ranking since 2012, according to the report, moving from number 18 to number 10 this year. The state ranks high for both health-related policies and access to clinical care.
11 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#11: Rhode Island



When it comes to infectious disease, Rhode Island seems like a pretty safe state to live. RI ranked mid-level to low on all types of infectious disease studied in the report, including: Chlamydia, Salmonella, and Pertusiss (aka whooping cough).
12 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#12: New Jersey



New Jersey, as well as Massachusetts, has more than 80 dentists per 100,000 people in the state, which puts it among the best states for dental care.
Advertisement
13 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#13: Nebraska



Although Nebraska ranks well for a low number of drug-related deaths and a high number of high school graduates, the state also is among the worst when it comes to infectious diseases and occupational fatalities.
14 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#14: Idaho



Idaho's strengths include low levels of air pollution, violent crime, and preventable hospitalizations, but the state also struggled with a high incidence of Salmonella and a disparity in health between education levels.
15 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#15: Iowa



Although Iowa has a high prevalence of heavy drinking among residents, it also has a low drug death rate, a low number of uninsured residents, and a low infant mortality rate.
16 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#16: Maryland



People in Maryland are less likely to smoke than residents in most other states, and are also less likely to feel distressed. But, the state also has a high violent crime rate and high levels of air pollution.
17 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#17: California



Although it might not be surprising, the report found that California has high levels of air pollution. The state makes up for it, however, by having a low number of residents who smoke.
Advertisement
18 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#18: North Dakota



If you're looking to chill out, North Dakota might be a good place to move. The state reportedly has a low level of residents who experience physical distress. They unfortunately also rank high for excessive drinking, though, and for a low number of children who receive immunizations.
19 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#19: Virginia



Virginia comes in at number 19 thanks in part to a low violent crime rate, low percentage of children in poverty, and low drug-related death rate.
20 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#20: Oregon



Oregon is a good place to be if you're in need of mental health care. A large number of mental health providers was listed among the state's strengths.

But, Oregon also has a low number of children who were given immunizations and, maybe relatedly, a high incidence of whooping cough.
21 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#21: Wisconsin



Wisconsin is known for its beer, so it should come as no surprise that excessive drinking is listed among the state's worst health habits. The points they lose from drinking, however, Wisconsin residents make up for by being active and insured.
22 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#22: Montana



All the open space in Montana lends the state an easy win for low levels of air pollution. However, Montanans also have fewer primary care physicians to choose from.
Advertisement
23 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#23: Maine



Maine earns points for a low violent crime rate, low incidence of chlamydia, and a high number of mental health providers, but it loses points for a high prevalence of smoking, a high incidence of whooping cough, and a low number of dentists.
24 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#24: South Dakota



South Dakota is a good place to be for anyone looking to breathe easier. Smoking decreased in the state 21% in the last five years, according to the report, and the state also ranks high for low levels of air pollution as well as low levels of mental distress.
25 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#25: Kansas



Kansas ranks smack in the middle this year (up two spots from last year) in part because the state also ranks 25th for the quality of women's and children's health.
26 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#26: Wyoming



Excessive drinking increased 14% within the last year in Wyoming, which may have contributed to the state dropping one spot from 25 last year to 26 this year. People in Wyoming benefit from low levels of air pollution and diabetes, but also struggle with high occupational fatalities and a low number of children who receive immunizations.
27 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#27: Illinois



In the last two years, violent crime in Illinois increased 15% to 436 offenses per 100,000 people. However, smoking also decreased 24% in the last five years, and significantly more people have become insured in the same time period.
Advertisement
28 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#28: Pennsylvania



A higher number of primary care physicians than in most other states, and a small disparity in health by educational status are counted among the strengths in Pennsylvania's health ranking, while a high drug death rate and low per capita public health funding count against the state.
29 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#29: Alaska



Alaska has a low prevalence of low birthweight, as well as diabetes, but the state's high violent crime rate, high percentage of uninsured population, and high incidence of chlamydia drag it's status down.
30 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#30: Delaware



In the last five years in Delaware, the percentage uninsured people decreased 46%, but the state also has a high infant mortality rate and a large disparity in health quality based on educational status.
31 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#31: Arizona



Arizona boasts a low preventable hospitalization rate, which the report defines as "the number of discharges for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions per 1,000 Medicare enrollees aged 65 and older." So, it's not a big surprise that Arizona ranks within the top 25 for senior care. But, the quality of care for women and children isn't quite so good. Arizona ranks 43 for women and children's health, and has a high percentage of children in poverty.
32 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#32: Florida



Within the last eight years, chlamydia diagnoses increased 44% in Florida, from 315.5 to 454.8 cases per 100,000 people. The state also has a high percentage of people who are uninsured and a high rate of physical inactivity.
Advertisement
33 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#33: North Carolina



Excessive drinking in North Carolina increased 18% in the last three years, and the state also has a high incidence of chlamydia and infant death.
34 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#34: Texas



Despite stereotypes about the Lone Star State in which everyone is depicted with a cigarette in their mouth, Texas actually has a low prevalence of smoking as compared to other states. Yet, the state's high percentage of uninsured people and lower number of mental health providers help to keep it in the bottom 25.
35 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#35: Michigan



Michigan boasts a higher number of primary care physicians as compared to other states, as well as a low incidence of salmonella. But, the state also sees a high rate of cardiovascular deaths and high prevalence of physical distress.
36 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#36: New Mexico



A high violent crime rate, high percentage of children in poverty, and high drug death rate drag New Mexico down to number 34 on this year's list, though the state also has low levels of air pollution, a higher number of mental health providers, and a low cancer death rate.
37 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#37: Nevada



Although both the percentage uninsured decreased by 46% and smoking decreased 28% in Nevada within the last few years, the state ranks 40th for senior health and 47th for the health of women and children, and therefore ranks in at #37.
Advertisement
38 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#38: Indiana



Air pollution in Indiana decreased 27% within the last eight years, yet the report still lists high levels of air pollution as one of the state's challenges. Also among those challenges are: a high prevalence of smoking and a lower number of dentists.
39 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#39: Ohio



A low percentage of the population in Ohio is uninsured, and the state also has a higher number of primary care physicians, which both give it bonus points on the health report. But, the state also has a high prevalence of smoking, high levels of air pollution, a high drug death rate, and ranks in the mid 30s for both senior health and the health of women and children.
40 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#40: Missouri



Among Missouri's challenges are: a high prevalence of smoking, a high violent crime rate, and a lower number of dentists.
41 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#41: Georgia



Georgia won points for healthy behaviors like low prevalence of excessive drinking, but lost points for having a high percentage of uninsured population, a high percentage of children in poverty, and a high infant mortality rate.
42 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#42: Kentucky



A high prevalence of smoking, high cancer death rate, and high preventable hospitalization rate put Kentucky at number 42.
Advertisement
43 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#43: Oklahoma



Although Oklahoma had a small disparity in health status by educational attainment and low prevalence of excessive drinking, it also had a high percentage of uninsured population, high cardiovascular death rate, and high infant mortality rate.
44 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#44: South Carolina



South Carolina boasts a small disparity in health status by educational attainment and low incidence of whooping cough, but loses points for a high percentage of children in poverty, high premature death rate, and high prevalence of diabetes.
45 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#45: Tennessee



There's a low prevalence of excessive drinking in Tennessee, as well as a small disparity in health status by educational attainment and a low incidence of pertussis, but the state has high prevalence of smoking, high violent crime rate, and high premature death rate.
46 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#46: West Virginia



West Virginia has a high amount of funding per capita for public health, but the state also has a high prevalence of smoking, high percentage of children in poverty, and a high drug death rate.
47 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#47: Alabama



Alabama's strengths include: high immunization coverage among children, a low prevalence of excessive drinking, and a small disparity in health status by educational attainment. But the state also has a high percentage of children in poverty and a high cardiovascular death rate.
Advertisement
48 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#48: Arkansas



Even though air pollution decreased 39% in Arkansas in the last 10 years, a high prevalence of smoking, high prevalence of frequent mental distress, and lower number of dentists put the state at #48.
49 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#49: Louisiana



Louisiana boasts a low incidence of whooping cough, but also has a high prevalence of smoking, high percentage of children in poverty, and a high prevalence of low birthweight.
50 of 50
Designed by Ly Ngo.

#50: Mississippi



Given that Mississippi has only one health clinic focused on women's health care like safe access to abortion, it's not a surprise that the state ranks dead last in both senior health and the health of women and children.
Advertisement

More from Trends

Watch

R29 Original Series