Vermont Business Magazine Vermont ranked Number One in the nation and five of the top seven states were in New England, in a WalletHub study of children's health. Raising a child in America is more expensive than ever, and health care accounts for a big chunk of the bill. And while more kids are insured today than at any other point in history, the higher coverage rate hasn’t translated to lower health costs for parents. Per-capita spending on children’s health care in 2014 reached $2,660 — having increased by more than 5 percent every year since 2010 — due mainly to rising health costs, according to a recent report from the Health Cost Institute.
But it’s a different story in every state. WalletHub’s data team therefore compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 28 key indicators of cost, quality and access to children’s health care. Its data set ranges from share of children aged 0 to 17 in excellent or very good health to pediatricians and family doctors per capita.
‘Kids’ Health & Access to Health Care’ Rank
‘Kids’ Nutrition, Physical Activity & Obesity’ Rank
‘Kids’ Oral Health’ Rank
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In order to determine the best and worst states for children’s health care, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: 1) Kids’ Health & Access to Health Care, 2) Kids’ Nutrition, Physical Activity & Obesity and 3) Kids’ Oral Health.
We evaluated these categories using 28 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the best health care for children.
We then calculated overall scores for each state and the District of Columbia based on its weighted average across all metrics and used the resulting scores to construct our final ranking.
Kids’ Health & Access to Health Care – Total Points: 55
- Share of Children Aged 0 to 17 in Excellent/Very Good Health: Double Weight (~10.00 Points)
- Infant-Death Rate: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Note: “Infant” includes children who are less than 1 year old.
- Child-Death Rate: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Note: “Child” includes children aged 1 to 14 years.
- Share of Children Aged 19 to 35 Months with All Seven Recommended Vaccines: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Note: Recommended vaccines include the following: DTaP vaccine; polio vaccine; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine; Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine; varicella (chicken pox) vaccine; hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine; and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV).
- Share of Uninsured Children Aged 0 to 17: Double Weight (~10.00 Points)
- Share of Children Aged 0 to 17 with Unaffordable Medical Bills: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of children aged 0 to 17 whose families had problems paying or were unable to pay their child’s medical bills.
- Pediatricians & Family Doctors per Capita: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
- Cost of Doctor’s Visit: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
- Number of Children’s Hospitals per Total Number of Children: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Kids’ Nutrition, Physical Activity & Obesity – Total Points: 40
- Healthy-Food Access: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of census tracts that have at least one healthier food retailer located within the tract or within 1/2-mile of tract boundaries.
- Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among Children Aged 14 to 18: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Share of Children Aged 14 to 18 Who Consume Fruits/Vegetables Less than Once Daily: Full Weight (~3.34 Points)
- Fast-Food Restaurants per Capita: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Dietitians & Nutritionists per Capita: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Share of Children Aged 6 to 17 Who Exercise or Play at Least 20 Minutes per Day: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Share of Overweight Children Aged 10 to 17: Double Weight (~6.67 Points)
- Share of Obese Children Aged 10 to 17: Double Weight (~6.67 Points)
- Presence of Obesity-Related School Standards: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
Note: This metric considers the presence or absence of obesity-related school standards in areas such as school-meal nutrition, physical education and health education.
- Presence of Obesity-Related State Initiatives: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
Note: This metric considers the presence of absence of obesity-related state initiatives such as menu-labeling laws and soda taxes.
Kids’ Oral Health – Total Points: 5
- Share of Children Aged 1 to 17 with Excellent/Very Good Teeth: Double Weight (~0.91 Points)
- Share of Children Aged 0 to 17 Who Had Both Medical & Dental Preventive-Care Visits in Past 12 Months: Double Weight (~0.91 Points)
- Share of Children Aged 0 to 17 Lacking Access to Fluoridated Water: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
- Presence of State Oral Health Plan: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of state oral health plans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “A state oral health plan is a roadmap for accomplishing the goals and objectives that have been developed in collaboration with partners and stakeholders, including the state oral health coalition, and members from the public health, dental and medical communities. A comprehensive state oral health plan should be used to direct skilled personnel and funding decisions to reduce the prevalence of oral disease.”
- Presence of School-Based Dental-Sealant Programs: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of school-based dental sealant programs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “School-based sealant programs provide pit and fissure sealants to children in a school setting. These programs generally target vulnerable populations that may be at greater risk for developing decay and less likely to receive preventive care.”
- Dental Treatment Costs: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
Note: “Dental Treatment” includes children’s braces, cleanings, crowns, root canals and tooth extractions.
- Presence of State Mandate for Dental-Health Screening: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of a mandatory dental-health screening or certification of a dental-health assessment as a condition of school entry.
- Share of Dentists Participating in Medicaid for Child Dental Services: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
- Dentists per Capita: Full Weight (~0.45 Points)
Sources: WalletHub. 4.24.2017. Data used to create this ranking were collected from U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Council for Community and Economic Research, Trust for America's Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kaiser Family Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Healthy Grid and U.S. News & World Report.