WASHINGTON – Children living in Iowa,Massachusetts,Vermont,Maine and New Hampshire have better health-care systems compared to the rest of the country,according to a new Commonwealth Fund report released Wednesday.
According to the report,”Securing a Healthy Future: The Commonwealth Fund State Scorecard of Child Health System Performance,2011,” children living in the five top-ranked New England and Midwest states are more likely to be insured and to receive recommended medical check-ups than children living in the five worst states: Florida,Texas,Arizona,Mississippi and Nevada.
“What is unique about this scorecard is that it looks at what has been achieved by the top states and holds that performance up as an example for other states because if it’s possible to insure almost all of the kids in Alabama,it should be possible in Texas and Mississippi. State and health care system leaders just need to make it a priority,” Edward Schor,Commonwealth Fund vice president and report coauthor,said.
Although Alabama ranked 37th overall,it has one of the higher rates of children with health insurance. Texas,which ranks 48th overall,is in the bottom quarter of states for children with insurance.
The report analyzed 20 indicators to determine how the health system is performing for children in each state and the District of Columbia and compared each state to benchmarks that have already been achieved in one or more states.
The indicators included the numbers of insured children whose health insurance coverage is adequate to meet their needs,children with a medical home – a long-term relationship with a medical provider – and infant mortality rates.
The researchers found that if all states did as well as the best states 5.6 million additional children would have health insurance and 10.2 million more children would receive routine preventive medical and dental checkups. In addition,nearly 600,000 more children would be up to date on their vaccinations,and 8.8 million more children would have a medical home.
The report also found that federal and state action to extend insurance to children has made a critical difference in reducing the number of uninsured children in all states and maintaining children’s coverage during the recession.
The report noted,however,that wide differences still persist among and within states for health insurance coverage,affordability of health care for families,preventive care and treatment.
None of the state scored in the top 10 for all indicators,and the report said there is room for improvement in all states.
“Because so many parents are uninsured,children and their families will remain at high risk until 2014,when access to health insurance will be expanded to include nearly everyone in the U.S.,” Cathy Schoen,Commonwealth Fund senior vice president and coauthor of the report,said.
The report said that the significant gap between what is being achieved in high- and low-performing states indicates a health-care system that is failing to ensure that all children receive the care they need to optimize their health and development.
The report authors said reforms in the Affordable Care Act can provide all states with new opportunities to improve health care for children and families.
The Commonwealth Fund is a foundation that advocates for high-performing health-care system across the United States.