Texas ranked within the middle 20 percent with an overall condition of “average” according to MoneyRates.com’s study of each state’s healthcare. Texas’ nation-worst health insurance rates and low vaccination rates were balanced out by high hospital and nursing home capacity.
The state’s highest performing category was in nursing home capacity, which was in the top 20 percent of all states, and hospital capacity was in the top 40 percent. The lowest category, coming in at the bottom 20 percent, was health insurance coverage. Child vaccination and patient care doctors were the next lowest ranked categories, both being place in the bottom 40 percent. Infant survival and mortality ranked in the middle 20 percent according to the report.
Using data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Census Bureau, all 50 states were ranked by MoneyRates according to the following seven categories: health-insurance coverage, longevity, child-vaccination coverage, infant survival, nursing-home capacity, hospital capacity, and patient-care doctors.
According to MoneyRates.com senior financial analyst, Richard Barrington, the areas in which Texas performs well in— nursing home and hospital capacity— reflect great value placed in commercial real estate in the Lone Star State. Furthermore, given that the state performed poorly in areas like access to health insurance and child vaccination, there is reason to believe that the private sector is more willing to invest in physical capacity than the public sector is willing to spend on human services programs, he says.
Perhaps the most alarming result of the study is Texas’s ranking in health insurance coverage. Not only was the state ranked last nationally, but it was more than three percentage points behind the next lowest state.
This could be contributed to demographics and the composition of the workforce, Barrington says. Policy decisions also play a role. Governor Gregg Abbott recently signed off on a new budget, increasing overall spending by 16 percent, but the portion allocated for health and human services only increased one percent, and the Medicaid portion is slated to be reduced.
The state’s priorities might lay otherwise, Barrington says. “The state can’t do everything, but it does set the tone. Based solely on the recent budget, it suggests that the state’s priorities are in areas other than healthcare.”
Texas also underperformed in the number of patient care physicians available. While the number of practicing physicians per 10,000 residents has improved from 17.9 to 22.4 since 2000, it is still being outpaced by the national rate.
The low rates of child vaccinations could be attributed to the latter two weaknesses, says Barrington. “If more people in the state are uninsured, and if doctors are a little thin on the ground, it’s not surprising that too many children would go unvaccinated.”
Considering the current unemployment rate in Texas is 3.7, companies may be having more trouble recruiting talent, but implementing health care benefits could be a good way to attract potential hires Barrington says. Outside of the private sector, a public push to prioritize health care in state legislature is a large part of the process for implementing change.
“To some extent these are policy decisions, and to some extent, a state’s policies ultimately reflect the will of the people.” Barrington says. “It’s up to the people of Texas to decide whether healthcare is a big enough priority to justify spending more on.”
Additional information from the study can be found here.