Georgia health care ranks among worst in nation, study says

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Georgia patients, medical workers, hospital officials and taxpayers on all sides of the issue have lived with anxiety for months as Washington Republicans’ tried to repeal the federal health care law known as Obamacare.

The average American spends nearly $10,000 on personal health care annually, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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But that cost and overall health care service can vary greatly from state to state.

To determine how states stack up against each other, analysts over at personal finance site WalletHub compared health care cost, accessibility and outcomes in the 50 states and the District of Columbia for the "2017 Best and Worst States for Health Care" ranking.

The three dimensions (cost, accessibility and outcomes) were evaluated using 35 relevant metrics, including cost of medical visits, average monthly insurance premiums, physicians per capita, quality of public hospital systems, infant mortality, life expectancy among others.

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Analysts collected data from a variety of reputable sources such as the Census, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Association of American Medical Colleges and more.

The best state for health care, according to WalletHub, is Hawaii, which earned top honors in outcomes and came in third for cost.

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Despite its top spot, Hawaii ranked 42nd for access, partly due to its No. 51 rank for the lowest physician Medicare-acceptance rate.

Researchers found the worst states for health care were concentrated in the South, with Louisiana dead last.

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Louisiana also ranked among the bottom three in both cost and outcomes.

Georgia ranked sixth worst for health care, according to the study.

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Here’s how Georgia fared, according to WalletHub:

  • Overall rank: 46
  • Cost: 38
  • Access: 49
  • Outcomes: 43

Additionally, Georgia tied at No. 47 with New Mexico for one of the lowest percentages of insured adults aged 18-64.

The state also ranked fifth for one of the nation's highest infant mortality rates — 7.5 per 1,000 live births, according to the CDC.

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Here are the 10 states with the best health care, according to WalletHub:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Iowa
  3. Minnesota
  4. New Hampshire
  5. District of Columbia
  6. Connecticut
  7. South Dakota
  8. Vermont
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Rhode Island

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And the 10 worst:

  1. Louisiana
  2. Mississippi
  3. Alaska
  4. Arkansas
  5. North Carolina
  6. Georgia
  7. South Carolina
  8. Alabama
  9. Florida
  10. Nevada

Compared to the rest of the world, many wealthy nations outperform the U.S. across several measures, including health coverage, life expectancy and quality of life, according a global health care quality analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

Still, America’s “ability to promote health and provide high-quality care, with some recent improvement in the accessibility of that care and a slowing of spending growth” has improved, according to the KFF analysis.

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For Georgia in particular, the threat of inaction on health care by Congress could cause Georgia hospitals to lose tens of millions of dollars in federal reimbursements for health care they provide to Medicaid patients and the uninsured, according to AJC's Tamar Hallerman.