01.11.12

25 Cities With the Best (and Worst) Health Care in 2012

With President Obama’s health-care plan sure to be a hot topic as he seeks reelection, The Daily Beast crunches the numbers for the second year in a row to find America’s best and worst cities for health care, from Boston to El Paso.

The first big bit of data on the Affordable Care Act trickled in recently when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that 2.5 million more young people now have health insurance—a 9 percent hike—since the bill was signed by Barack Obama in 2010.

As the presidential election ramps up this year, health care is sure to be a major point of contention. The GOP frontrunner, Mitt Romney, helped pass sweeping health-care legislation in Massachusetts, similar to the law championed by the president. But if elected, Romney has promised to allow states to opt out of Obama’s health act, and more than half of states have challenged the constitutionality of the president’s law.

With an eye toward this year’s presidential showdown, we wanted to find out, again, where people have the best and worst health-care coverage—the cities where people stand to gain the most as the Affordable Care Act continues to go into effect, where they stand to lose the most coverage if it is repealed, and the cities that already have relatively comprehensive coverage. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the top five cities on our list are in the Bay State.

To find the best cities for health care, The Daily Beast looked at the most recent data, 2008–10 from the U.S. Census, and as we did last year, we equally weighted four factors for each metropolitan area in the country: the percentage of the population with health care; the percentage of people age 18 and younger with health care; the percentage of people age 65 and older with health care; and the percentage of disabled people with health care. We took the average coverage for each category nationally and then compared it with the individual coverage percentages for each city—so the cities on these lists consistently score higher or lower than average for overall health-care coverage and coverage for their most vulnerable populations. As with last year, we only measured cities with a margin of error of 5 percent or less for the total percentage insured. Because the 2008–10 Census data covers three years and is more precise, we were able to include more cities in this year’s list.