Two rankings on health put Georgia at the bottom of states

Aaron Burrell

Two recent reports have placed Georgia at the bottom of the rankings when it comes to overall health and healthcare for its residents. The state’s poor performance highlights significant disparities and challenges in access to care, health outcomes, and healthcare costs.

America’s health rankings composite score

According to America’s Health Rankings, Georgia ranked 37th out of 50 states in 2023 based on a composite measure of various health indicators. The state’s weighted z-score of 0.256 placed it behind Ohio (36th) and South Carolina (38th). The top-ranked state was New Hampshire with a score of 0.891, while Louisiana was at the bottom with -0.948.

Wallethub’s state healthcare rankings

In a separate ranking by WalletHub, Georgia was ranked 51st overall for healthcare in 2022, ahead of only Oklahoma. The analysis looked at three key categories: cost, access, and outcomes. While Georgia was average in terms of healthcare costs (26th), it ranked 51st in access to care and 47th in health outcomes.

Georgia’s poor ranking in access to care was driven by low numbers of healthcare providers per capita, with nine counties having no physicians, 76 counties lacking an obstetrician-gynecologist, and 60 counties without a pediatrician as of 2018. The state also has the third-highest uninsured rate in the country at 13.4%.

Challenges for seniors and rural residents

A third report by MedicareGuide ranked Georgia 50th for healthcare for seniors, with factors like prescription drug prices, physician-to-population ratios, and life expectancy contributing to the low ranking. This follows the state’s 51st place ranking for overall healthcare in 2021.

The disparities in healthcare access and outcomes are particularly pronounced in Georgia’s rural counties. A recent analysis by the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program found that 83 of Georgia’s 159 counties (over 50%) were in the bottom national quartile for health outcomes. These 83 counties are home to 2.43 million Georgians, or 22% of the state’s population.

Conclusion

Georgia’s consistent placement at or near the bottom of state healthcare rankings underscores the urgent need for policy interventions and targeted investments to improve access to care, health outcomes, and affordability for all residents.

Addressing the significant disparities in rural areas and for vulnerable populations should be a top priority. By working to elevate Georgia’s healthcare performance, the state can ensure that all Georgians have the opportunity to lead healthier lives.

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