How Healthy Is Your State? All 50, Ranked From First to Worst
State health rankings 2015
Each year, the United Health Foundation ranks the health of all 50 states. They take five major factors into account: behaviors, such as smoking, excessive drinking, and drug deaths; community, including violent crime, on-the-job fatalities, and infectious disease; policies, including how many people lack health insurance, and percentage of children up-to-date on immunizations; healthcare, like the number of dentists and doctors available per capita; and outcomes, including measures on diabetes, cancer deaths, heart disease deaths, and more. So how healthy is your state? Read on to see where your home state ranked in 2015.
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2014 rank: 1
Hawaii takes top honors for the third year in a row thanks to its relatively low obesity rate, few adults reporting many poor mental health days, and low rate of preventable hospitalizations. The Aloha State also boasts the third-lowest smoking rate in the nation, and in the last year, immunizations among children increased 11%. Not all news is sunny, however; Hawaii still suffers from a high prevalence of excessive drinking, and air pollution is on the rise.
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2014 rank: 2
Vermont, once again, comes in a close second behind Hawaii, with its low rates for violent crime, infant mortality, and uninsured population. In the last year, Vermont also saw an 11% decrease in preventable hospitalizations. Since 1990, cardiovascular deaths have decreased a whopping 45%. The Green Mountain State isn't without challenges, however. People with low levels of education tend to be less healthy than more educated people, and the state has a high prevalence of excessive drinking.
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2014 rank: 3
Just 3.5% of the Massachusetts population lacks health insurance, the lowest in the nation. It also ranks first for number of primary care physicians, which means it's relatively easy for residents to find a doctor when they need one, and the state also has the third-lowest obesity rate. Like Vermont, though, Massachusetts struggles with excessive drinking and health disparity by education level. It also has a high violent crime rate.
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2014 rank: 6
The Gopher State climbs two spots in 2015 thanks to its low rate of cardiovascular deaths—they've decreased 47% since 1990—as well as the fourth-lowest rate of uninsured population in the country. Minnesota adults also report fewer days of poor physical health than most. Still, Minnesota could improve its per capita health funding and HPV immunizations in boys, and the state has a high prevalence of excessive drinking.
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5. New Hampshire
2014 rank: 7
Despite high rates of drug deaths and excessive drinking, New Hampshire climbs two spots over 2014. In the last two years, poor physical health days decreased 11%, and the Granite State had high immunization rates for both children and adolescents. It also has a low percentage of children in poverty.
2014 rank: 4
Connecticut slips two spots in 2015. Since 2014, drug deaths have increased 19%. The state also has one of the nation's largest gaps in health status between the highly educated and less educated. That said, the Nutmeg State saw a 20% decrease in children in poverty over the last year, and in the last two years, preventable hospitalizations have dropped 16%.
2014 rank: 5
Utah drops two places this year—low immunization coverage among adolescents, high rate of drug deaths, and a 30% jump in children living in poverty are to blame. It's also tough to find a primary care doctor in Utah. That said, Utah residents still have exemplary overall health. The state has the lowest diabetes and smoking rates in the country, and among the most active and least obese.
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2014 rank: 8
When you picture things to do in Colorado, perhaps you think about going skiing, rock climbing, or mountain biking. It's no wonder, then, that Coloradans are the most active Americans. They also have the lowest obesity rate in the nation. Still, Colorado struggles with a large disparity in health status by education level.
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2014 rank: 13
Washington climbs four slots in 2015. While the Evergreen State experienced a 2% uptick in excessive drinking and struggles with a low high school graduation rate and low immunization coverage among children, it makes up for it with low incidence of infectious disease and low rate of cardiovascular deaths.
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2014 rank: 10
Rounding out the top 10, we have Nebraska. Nebraskans feel healthy, which counts for a lot—they report the third-fewest poor physical and mental health days. They also have a high rate of high school graduation, and high rate of childhood immunizations. Still, more children need to be immunized, and an increasing number of them are living in poverty.
11. New Jersey
2014 rank: 11
Smile, New Jersey: Your state has more dentists per capita than any other. The Garden State also has a low incidence of infectious disease and low infant mortality rate. New Jersey may not stay so healthy, though, if it continues to cut public health funding—it has decreased 17% in the last 5 years. There's also a large disparity in health status by education level.
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12. North Dakota
2014 rank: 9
First, the bad news: North Dakota has a higher prevalence of excessive drinking than any other state, at 25% of the population. It also ranks in the bottom 10 for obesity. But the news out of the Peace Garden State isn't all negative. North Dakotans report the fewest poor physical health days in the country. They also enjoy excellent air quality.
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13. New York
2014 rank: 14
A drop in the smoking rate and high per capita health funding has propelled New York State from 40th place in 1990 to 13th today, making it the most-improved state in America's Health Ranking's history. This year, the Empire State saw the smoking rate decrease an additional 13%, and excessive drinking dropped 13% as well. To climb even higher in the rankings, New York needs to work on its low high school graduation rate and large disparity in health status by education level.
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14. Rhode Island
2014 rank: 15
Rhode Island may be small, but it has made some big health gains in the last year. Since 2014, Rhode Islanders have started moving more—physical inactivity dropped from 26.9% to 22.5% of adults. The Ocean State also has high per capita health funding, and ranks first in the nation for percentage of children and adolescents who are immunized. That said, Rhode Island needs to bridge the health disparity by education gap and work on its high rates of drug deaths and excessive drinking.
2014 rank: 20
In the last year, childhood immunizations increased 25% and physical inactivity decreased 15%, helping Maine rise five spots in America's Health Rankings. Maine also boasts a low violent crime rate. However, the Pine Tree State still needs to work on its high infant mortality rate and high prevalence of excessive drinking. It also has more cases of pertussis per capita than most states.
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2014 rank: 17
Although California has seen a 21% drop in the number of people who lack health insurance over the last two years, nearly 15% of the population still isn't covered. The gridlock-plagued state also has high levels of air pollution. But California is doing a lot of things well: low prevalence of smoking and obesity and a low infant mortality rate helped the Golden State rise in the rankings this year.
2014 rank: 18
Type 2 diabetes is on the rise nationwide, but Idaho has the fourth-lowest rate in the country. The fact that residents are more active than those in 45 other states may help. Idaho also has high per capita health funding. A few pain points: it's tough to find a primary care doctor in the Gem State, and too few children are immunized. There's also a high level of air pollution.
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2014 rank: 16
Maryland's residents are starting to get moving: Physical inactivity decreased 15% since last year. More of them are also getting health insurance, and fewer of them are dying from cancer. However, Maryland still faces challenges. It has one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation, and drug deaths are on the rise.
19. South Dakota
2014 rank: 18
South Dakota dropped a spot this year, perhaps because more adults are reporting poor physical health days, HPV immunizations decreased, and the number of children in poverty has gone up 21%. There's some good news out of the Mount Rushmore State, however. In the last two years, smoking has decreased 15%, and adults reported fewer poor mental health days than any other state.
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2014 rank: 12
Oregon ranks in the bottom 10 stats for high school graduation rate (49), percentage of children who are immunized (46), and poor physical health days (42). Despite its dip in the rankings this year, Oregon still holds high on other measures. Oregon is second only to Colorado in the level of physical activity its residents get, and there is a low rate of cardiovascular deaths. And in the last year, lack of health insurance decreased 18%.
2014 rank: 21
They say Virginia is for lovers, but according to America's Health Rankings, it's also a place you can live with low crime, low incidence of infectious disease, and few children in poverty. That said, Virginia also has low per capita health funding, and nearly 20% of state has not yet gotten the message that smoking kills.
2014 rank: 24
With a graduation rate of 89.7%, more students graduate from high school in Iowa than in any other state. The Hawkeye State also has more residents insured than most states, ranking fifth. High prevalence of excessive drinking and a limited availability of primary care physicians drag the state down, however.
2014 rank: 22Montana is a state of highs and lows. It ranks in the top 10 best for obesity, physical inactivity, air pollution, cases of salmonella, and diabetes. But it ranks in the bottom 10 for excessive drinking, lack of health insurance, childhood immunizations, number of primary care physicians, and cases of pertussis (also known as whooping cough).
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2014 rank: 23
In 2015, 11% more teenage girls received an HPV immunization than they did in 2014. Other good news: Wisconsin has a high rate of high school graduation, and low percentage of uninsured residents. Now, some bad news: Drug deaths have risen 19% over the last two years, too many Cheeseheads drink too much, and more than 30% of the population is obese.
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2014 rank: 25
Rounding out the top half of America's Health Rankings is the Cowboy State. Wyoming residents enjoy clean air, with the lowest air pollution levels in the nation. Wyoming also has the fewest children living in poverty, and ranks in the top 10 for fewer cancer deaths and a lower diabetes prevalence. But Wyoming is abysmal when it comes to childhood immunizations. Only 64% of kids in Wyoming are up to date on their shots.
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2014 rank: 27
Kansans report feeling happy and healthy most of the time, but are they actually healthy? More than 30% of the population is obese, immunization coverage among adolescents is very low, and the state ranks 44th for per capita health funding. There are bright spots, however: more than 85% of high school students graduate and there are relatively few drug deaths.
2014 rank: 26
Our northernmost state has the lowest prevalence of low birth weight in the country. And smile, Alaskans, because you won't have trouble finding a dentist—you have more per capita than all states but one. But Alaskans are struggling with their weight—obesity increased 16% in the last two years—and violent crime has gone up 41% since 1990.
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2014 rank: 30
Illinois climbs two spots in the rankings this year because HPV immunization among teenage girls has gone up a whopping 41%, and in the last 10 years, premature death has decreased 13%. Illinois needs to work on its air pollution problem, however, and too many people in the Prairie State are drinking too much alcohol.
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2014 rank: 28
In Pennsylvania, 19.4% of children live in poverty, a 15% increase over 2014. Another pain point: in the past year, health disparity by education level increased 18%. What's going well in PA? Kids are getting their immunizations, and the state has the 10th lowest level of infectious diseases (chlamydia, pertussis, and salmonella).
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2014 rank: 29
The Grand Canyon State ranks in the top 10 for several measures: occupational fatalities, preventable hospitalizations, and cancer deaths. Problem is, Arizona is doing just barely adequate in most other measures, especially the percentage of children in poverty—nearly 30% of kids are struggling.
31. North Carolina
2014 rank: 37
North Carolina jumps six places in 2015. In the past year, Tar Heels have been moving more: physical inactivity decreased 13%. HPV immunizations also bumped up a whopping 64%. To improve even further, North Carolina needs to focus on its high infant mortality rate and large disparity in health status by education level.
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2014 rank: 35
Delaware: Home of low taxes, beautiful beach towns, and…a lot of chlamydia. The Diamond State has 568.4 chlamydia cases per 100,000 residents, which is more than 44 states. It also struggles with violent crime and a limited availability of dentists. On the bright side, Delaware spends $100 per resident on health, and few residents lack insurance.