10 Places With the Most Access to Quality Health Care
Residents of these areas have access to the treatment they need.
Female consultant examining teenage patient in hospital using stethoscope(Getty Images)
Health care can be the furthest thing from people's minds when they're healthy, but when they get sick, they find out how important access to quality care is.
The importance of health care accessibility cannot be ignored, and neither can its cost. According to a 2013 study conducted by NerdWallet Health, medical bills are America's leading cause of personal bankruptcy. These costs, however, tend to be lower in places where residents have access to multiple care providers. A 2015 study from the Health Care Pricing Project shows that health care costs in areas with only one hospital are around 15 percent higher than in areas with four or more hospitals.
Access to high-quality health care was one of the elements U.S. News & World Report analyzed for the 2016 Best Places to Live ranking, which evaluated the 100 most populous metro areas in the country based on the cost of living, quality of life and the job market, among other factors. Using data from the U.S. News Best Hospitals ranking, we looked at how many ranked hospitals are located within a 250-mile radius of each metro area. Areas with more ranked hospitals within that radius received higher scores for the Quality and Availability of Health Care, which was factored into the Best Places to Live Quality of Life Index.
Based on this data, these are the 10 metro areas with the most access to quality health care.
Cleveland is home to some of the best hospitals in the U.S. The Cleveland Clinic, for instance, is U.S. News' No. 2 ranked hospital overall and the single best in the country for cardiology and heart surgery.
Home to elite health care facilities like the UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles also benefits from linkages between hospitals in the area, which are designed to lower costs and improve access.
The southernmost of our top 10 areas, Raleigh-Durham's health care system relies in part on university hospitals based in Duke University and the University of North Carolina. Duke University Hospital, in particular, is highly regarded in the health care community; with the highest possible rating from U.S. News in nine procedures or conditions, the hospital is one of the top options in the region.
Costs in the Big Apple can be high: A 2016 study conducted by GoBankingRates found that the state of New York has the highest health insurance costs in the country. The area is also home to several hospitals listed on the U.S. News Hospitals 2016-17 Honor Roll, like Columbia, NYU Langone Medical Center and Mount Sinai.
Residents of Toledo benefit more from the overall great health care in Ohio than from hospitals within the metro area limits. The Midwest Health Collaborative, formed in 2015, joins hospitals across the region like the Toledo-based ProMedica and the Cleveland Clinic to improve Ohioans' access to health care across the state.
Like those living in Toledo, Youngstown residents benefit from their hometown's prime location. Sixty-five miles from Cleveland and 61 miles from Pittsburgh, Youngstown is just a short drive from several top-quality hospitals.
Knoxville has a desirable selection of health care facilities to serve its population of roughly 850,000, with seven general hospitals and one children's hospital. The most prominent hospital in the area is the University of Tennessee Medical Center, nationally ranked by U.S. News for pulmonology.
Pennsylvania, like Ohio, has a good statewide health care system; a 2014 Commonwealth Fund scorecard ranking placed the state in the second quartile of health care performance, higher than most states of its population size. Scranton residents benefit not only from the area's own hospitals but from the great health care systems in New York City and Philadelphia, both a few hours' drive away.
As in Scranton, Allentown residents benefit from the area's proximity to New York City, but unlike Scranton, Allentown also has hospitals nationally ranked by U.S. News in its own right. For instance, the Lehigh Valley Hospital is recognized in five categories, including cardiology and orthopedics.
Pittsburgh has a storied medical history; among the innovations that took place in the area are Jonas Salk's development of the polio vaccine and the perfection of human organ transplants by Thomas Starzl. Today, residents of the area can receive high-quality treatment at hospitals like the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and West Penn Hospital.