Raising a child in America is extremely expensive, costing the average parent over $230k, and health care accounts for a big chunk of the bill. And while more kids are insured today than at any other point in history, the higher coverage rate hasn’t translated to lower health costs for parents. For example, out of pocket costs for patients aged 0 to 18 increased by 18%between 2012 and 2016.

But it’s a different story in every state. WalletHub therefore compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 30 key indicators of cost, quality and access to children’s health care. Our data set ranges from share of children aged 0 to 17 in excellent or very good health to pediatricians and family doctors per capita. Read on for our findings, expert insight from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology.

Main Findings

Source: WalletHub

Best States for Children’s Health

Overall Rank
(1=Best)
StateTotal Score‘Kids’ Health & Access to Health Care’ Rank‘Kids’ Nutrition, Physical Activity & Obesity’ Rank‘Kids’ Oral Health’ Rank
1Vermont73.40119
2District of Columbia64.092148
3Massachusetts61.985715
4Connecticut61.846628
5New York60.1581217
6Maryland60.134254
7Hawaii59.9131344
8New Hampshire58.23101710
9New Jersey58.1791543
10California57.9515239
11Delaware57.7073213
12Illinois57.361937
13Minnesota56.7914225
14Oregon56.6121521
15Pennsylvania56.53131622
16Virginia56.06122620
17Iowa55.5416216
18Washington55.3118937
19Colorado55.2024819
20Rhode Island54.99113516
21Utah54.7226423
22Michigan52.74172918
23Wisconsin52.41291024
24Maine52.0934112
25Missouri51.89222049
26Kansas51.53233314
27Idaho51.22252330
28Kentucky50.93204211
29Nebraska49.95282433
30Ohio48.76274035
31South Dakota48.21302832
32North Carolina47.96313927
33West Virginia46.8432441
34New Mexico45.70373038
35North Dakota45.58441826
36Tennessee45.32334829
37South Carolina44.3636493
38Florida44.06393448
39Indiana43.80404125
40Alabama43.64354646
41Georgia43.57385012
42Arizona43.39471936
43Alaska43.13452740
44Wyoming42.82423741
45Oklahoma40.92434342
46Montana40.45483147
47Arkansas40.41414745
48Mississippi37.80465151
49Texas37.02503831
50Louisiana35.86494534
51Nevada35.60513650

Artwork-2018-Best-&-Worst-States-for-Child-Health-v1

Methodology

In order to determine the best and worst states for children’s health care, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: 1) Kids’ Health & Access to Health Care, 2) Kids’ Nutrition, Physical Activity & Obesity and 3) Kids’ Oral Health.

We evaluated these categories using 30 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the best health care for children.

We then determined each state and the District’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

Kids’ Health & Access to Health Care – Total Points: 55

  • Share of Children Aged 0 to 17 in Excellent/Very Good Health: Double Weight (~9.17 Points)
  • Infant-Death Rate: Full Weight (~4.58 Points)
    Note: “Infant” includes children who are less than 1 year old.
  • Child-Death Rate: Full Weight (~4.58 Points)
    Note: “Child” includes children aged 1 to 14 years.
  • Share of Children Aged 19 to 35 Months with All Recommended Vaccines: Full Weight (~4.58 Points)
    Note: Recommended vaccines include the following: DTaP vaccine; polio vaccine; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine; Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine; varicella (chicken pox) vaccine; hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine; and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV).
  • Share of Uninsured Children Aged 0 to 17: Double Weight (~9.17 Points)
  • Share of Children Aged 0 to 17 with Unaffordable Medical Bills: Full Weight (~4.58 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the percentage of children aged 0 to 17 whose families had problems paying or were unable to pay their child’s medical bills.
  • Pediatricians & Family Doctors per Capita: Full Weight (~4.58 Points)
  • Cost of Doctor’s Visit: Full Weight (~4.58 Points)
  • Out-of-Pocket Cost for Children’s Health Care: Full Weight (~4.58 Points)
  • Number of Children’s Hospitals per Total Number of Children: Full Weight (~4.58 Points)

Kids’ Nutrition, Physical Activity & Obesity – Total Points: 40

  • Healthy-Food Access: Full Weight (~3.08 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the percentage of census tracts that have at least one healthier food retailer located within the tract or within 1/2-mile of tract boundaries.
  • Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among Children Aged 14 to 18: Full Weight (~3.08 Points)
  • Share of Children Aged 14 to 18 Who Consume Fruits/Vegetables Less than Once Daily: Full Weight (~3.08 Points)
  • Fast-Food Restaurants per Capita: Full Weight (~3.08 Points)
  • Dietitians & Nutritionists per Capita: Full Weight (~3.08 Points)
  • Share of Children Aged 6 to 17 Who Exercise at Least 20 Minutes per Day: Full Weight (~3.08 Points)
  • Share of Overweight Children Aged 10 to 17: Double Weight (~6.15 Points)
  • Share of Obese Children Aged 10 to 17: Double Weight (~6.15 Points)
  • Presence of Obesity-Related School Standards: Full Weight (~3.08 Points)
    Note: This metric considers the presence or absence of obesity-related school standards in areas such as school-meal nutrition, physical education and health education.
  • Presence of Obesity-Related State Initiatives: Full Weight (~3.08 Points)
    Note: This metric considers the presence of absence of obesity-related state initiatives such as menu-labeling laws and soda taxes.
  • Share of Children Aged 1-17 Who Live Near a Park/Playground & Recreation/Community Centre: Full Weight (~3.08 Points)

Kids’ Oral Health – Total Points: 5

  • Share of Children Aged 1 to 17 with Excellent/Very Good Teeth: Double Weight (~0.91 Points)
  • Share of Children Aged 0 to 17 With Recent Medical & Dental Checkups: Double Weight (~0.91 Points)
  • Share of Children Aged 0 to 17 Lacking Access to Fluoridated Water: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
  • Presence of State Oral Health Plan: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
    Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of state oral health plans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “A state oral health plan is a roadmap for accomplishing the goals and objectives that have been developed in collaboration with partners and stakeholders, including the state oral health coalition, and members from the public health, dental and medical communities. A comprehensive state oral health plan should be used to direct skilled personnel and funding decisions to reduce the prevalence of oral disease.”
  • Presence of School-Based Dental-Sealant Programs: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
    Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of school-based dental sealant programs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “School-based sealant programs provide pit and fissure sealants to children in a school setting. These programs generally target vulnerable populations that may be at greater risk for developing decay and less likely to receive preventive care.”
  • Dental Treatment Costs: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
    Note: “Dental Treatment” includes children’s braces, cleanings, crowns, root canals and tooth extractions.
  • Presence of State Mandate for Dental-Health Screening: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
    Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of a mandatory dental-health screening or certification of a dental-health assessment as a condition of school entry.
  • Share of Dentists Participating in Medicaid for Child Dental Services: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
  • Dentists per Capita: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)

Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Council for Community and Economic Research, County Health Rankings, American Dental Association, Trust for America’s Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Healthy Grid and U.S. News & World Report.


Reprinted with permission from WalletHub. The original post can be found here.