Minnesota took top honors in a new ranking of state health performance, beating out Massachusetts, which ranks second.
The new ranking from the Commonwealth Fund graded states on 42 health indicators, including insurance coverage, vaccination rates, preventable hospital visits, obesity, smoking rates and cancer deaths between 2007 to 2012 — that's just before major provisions of the Affordable Care Act began to be implemented.
The report highlights wide regional disparities.
– States at the bottom of the list were mostly in the South (plus Indiana and Nevada).
–Most of the top states were in New England and the Upper Midwest (plus Hawaii and Colorado).
Researchers fear those discrepancies could increase as some states make gains "through Medicaid and high-quality private insurance choices in the new marketplaces, while other states lag," USA Today reports.
"Overall, the pace of change was slow,” the Commonwealth Fund's Cathy Shoen told WBUR, “and less than we should expect given how much we pay for health care.”
The report says Minnesota and other top states' consistently high performance "may be the result of their willingness and wherewithal to address health system change with focused initiatives spanning the public and private sectors."
But, the report notes, even the leading states did not perform consistently well – or consistently improve – across all performance indicators.
MinnPost reports Minnesota ranked 37th in the category “children ages 19 to 35 months who received all recommended seven doses of vaccines” and 48th in the category “home health patients whose wounds improved or healed after an operation.”
Some of Minnesota’s scores also worsened during the five years covered by the study. Those categories included “adults who went without care because of cost in the past year,” “the risk-adjusted 30-day mortality among Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized for heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia,” and “children ages 10-17 who are overweight or obese.”
Click here to read more about the rankings.