(The Center Square) – Iowa’s health care system ranked eighth in quality throughout the nation in WalletHub’s Aug. 2 report on the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The state’s total score across 44 measures pertaining to cost, access, and outcomes was 62.27. Massachusetts ranked best in the nation, with an overall score of 67.73, while Alabama ranked last (41.46).
Iowa’s highest scores, compared with other states’, were in the share of adults with no doctor visits due to cost (2nd, 8.9%), share of children with medical and dental preventive-care visits in the past year (2nd), quality of public hospital system (3rd), percent of insured adults (7th), and percent of insured children (9th). The state ranked 11th for hospital beds per capita and 13th for percent of adults with no dental visit in the past year.
Iowa’s lowest rankings included cancer incidence rate (46th, 477.30), share of medical residents retained (44th, 35.40%), urgent-care centers per capita (38th), cost of medical visit (38th, $128.63), physicians per capita (27th), percent of residents age 12 or older who were initiating vaccination for COVID-19 (25th), dentists per capita (24th), and percent of at-risk adults with no routine doctor visit in the past two years (17th).
Most of Iowa’s neighbors scored significantly lower. Illinois ranked 22nd, Wisconsin ranked 25th, Nebraska ranked 27th, and Missouri ranked 42nd.
However, Minnesota beat Iowa in the ranking, placing third, and South Dakota wasn’t far behind, ranking 10th. Minnesota ranked higher in access (7th), outcomes (9th) and cost (2nd) compared to Iowa’s access (26th), outcomes (11th) and cost (3rd). Minnesota ranked first in the nation in convenient care clinics per capita and status of state Affordable Care Act innovation waivers. Iowa ranked 36th and 24th in those measures, respectively.
Boston University School of Public Health Professor Alan Sager in a statement emailed to The Center Square said that local authorities can support hospitals and health care providers during the pandemic by determining what support is needed.
“They can demand state and federal action to take accountability for identifying which doctors and hospitals are needed and to make sure they are paid enough to remain—or to go—where they are needed,” Sager said.
Major health issues facing health care this year, apart from COVID-19 vaccination, include the “Quadruple Aim for Healthcare,” University of Pennsylvania Associate Professor Ingrid Nembhard said in the statement emailed to The Center Square.
“Reduce cost, improve population health (quality of care), improve patient care experiences (so they are patient-centered, inclusive, equitable and embrace the diversity of our population) and improve the workforce experience,” Nembhard said. “If we do not take care of health care workers – from our physicians, nurses, therapist, and other clinicians to our food service, transportation, and janitorial staff – we cannot sustainably achieve the other aims.”
Ongoing challenges will be consumers’ healthcare costs and prolonged symptoms from COVID-19 infection, Texas A&M University Assistant Professor Benjamin Ukert said in the statement.
“The long-term consequences of Long COVID are unknown but it could quickly increase the number of people with chronic conditions for years to come,” he said.
Iowa scored 16th in WalletHub’s ranking of states for children’s health care, 10th in its ranking of states for doctors, and 15th in its report regarding nurses. Des Moines scored 97th in its Healthiest & Unhealthiest Cities in America report.