October 15, 2014 — Massachusetts ranks as the best state in the U.S. for meeting women's health needs, while Mississippi is the worst state, according to the Alliance for a Just Society's 2014 Women's Health Report Card, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The Alliance for a Just Society -- a coalition of 14 racial and economic justice organizations -- compiled the report card based on data from CDC, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and the Kaiser Family Foundation. The researchers took three factors into account to determine states' grades: the proportion of women in the state who lack health coverage; women's access to timely and quality medical care; and women's health outcomes, including rates of asthma, diabetes, hypertension, mental disabilities, sexually transmitted infections and other conditions.
According to the report, Massachusetts and Connecticut were the only two states to receive "A" grades for all three categories. Meanwhile, 12 states received "D" or "F" grades in all three areas: Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming (Stevens, Chicago Tribune, 10/14).
Further, the report found that the states with the best health coverage for women are Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Vermont, while those with the worst coverage are Florida, Georgia, Montana, Nevada and Texas (Zak, Puget Sound Business Journal, 10/14).
The report also looked at racial and economic health disparities and the impact they have on women's health in the states. In those areas, the report found that infant mortality rates among black women in 38 states were at least 20% higher than for all women. In 33 states, the rates were at least 50% higher among black women.
In addition, the report found that diabetes rates for Latinas were at least 20% higher than for all women in 28 states, while the rates were at least 50% higher in 19 states. Similarly, asthma rates for Native American women were at least 20% higher than for all women in 13 states and at least 50% higher in 10 states.
The researchers said they hope the report card will serve as a catalyst for state lawmakers to take action, particularly in states that received low grades.
The report noted, "These states have a middling, poor or failing record when it comes to meeting women's health needs," adding that they have not provided women with "fair opportunities to lead healthy, prosperous and productive lives." It said, "This harms not only women but also their families, their communities and their states" (Chicago Tribune, 10/14).