Health News

Massachusetts Named Healthiest State in United States

The United Health Foundation found the quality of the state's health care system topped the nation, while identifying the spike in drug deaths as an area for improvement.

The Massachusetts General Hospital sign

Photo by Samantha Carey

Dust off your mantelpiece, Massachusetts, because we just won yet another national accolade.

The Bay State—home to some of the top docs in the country—was named the healthiest state in America by the United Health Foundation in the group’s annual benchmark assessment, which is based on 35 measures of behavior, environment, and policy

With nearly 550 mental health care providers, more than 200 primary care physicians, and over 80 dentists per 100,000 people, Massachusetts pulled ahead of Hawaii, which topped the list for each of the last five years, in the 2017 rankings. On top of widespread access to health services, just 2.7 percent of Massachusetts residents are uninsured (the smallest such population in the country); the rate of cancer deaths is significantly decreasing; and in the last two years, the number of children in poverty in the Bay State shrank by 38 percent.

Of course, although there’s a lot to celebrate about how Massachusetts’ health infrastructure and population fitness measure up on a national level, the state still has a lot of room to improve. Health status varies greatly by educational attainment and race here; and just 11 percent of patients admitted to the city’s biggest hospitals are black, according to the Boston Globe. The state has also endured a 69 percent spike in drug deaths since 2012, according to the United Health Foundation, which is one of the harshest climbs across the country. Though the number of opioid-related deaths is starting to decline, there’s still a very long road ahead on the issue.

Our neighbors elsewhere in New England also scored well on the foundation’s rankings, with Vermont earning the third place spot, Connecticut rounding out the top five, and New Hampshire finishing in eighth. The Deep South did not fair nearly as well: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi were found to be the least healthy states in the country.