Public health is worth one-third of the weight in ranking the Best States for health care. This subcategory evaluated six metrics: mortality rate, suicide rate, smoking rate, mental health, infant mortality rate and adult obesity rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided the data, which were collected between 2015 and 2016, for each of the public health metrics. A population’s overall health is a strong indicator of the quality of life in a given state, providing insight into access to nutrition, economic challenges and other barriers to health that may persist within a state.
Five of the top-10 states for public health also rank in the top 10 overall: Minnesota, Utah, Washington, Massachusetts and Colorado. Hawaii, which also ranks first in health care, has the second-best public health in the nation. Though California ranks No. 36 for health care access and No. 14 for health care quality, it takes the top spot for public health. Mississippi takes the No. 50 slot, with some of the worst mortality rates, infant mortality rates and obesity rates in the U.S.