Health care in Wisconsin ranks among best in nation

State ranks No. 3 in quality of care metrics

Wisconsin is the third best state in the country when it comes to overall health care quality scores, according to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.


The rankings are based on nearly 200 measurements used to evaluate health care performance. Wisconsin’s score was surpassed only by Maine (No. 1) and Massachusetts (No. 2).

“The AHRQ rankings are a national validation of what we know here; Wisconsin’s local and regional health systems are delivering some of the best care in the country,” said Wisconsin Hospital Association president and chief executive officer Eric Borgerding in a statement.

The three most poorly rated states according to the study are New Mexico (No. 50), Nevada (No. 49) and California (No. 48). In general, health care quality was ranked poorest in southern and southwestern states and highest in Midwestern and northeastern states.

Wisconsin has been in the top five of AHRQ’s rankings since 2013. Between 2006 and 2011, the state was ranked No. 1 in the nation twice and No. 2 three times. The state was ranked No. 7 in 2010.

“The consistency from year to year is important,” says Kelly Court, WHA chief quality officer. “This demonstrates that health care is well coordinated and delivered as an entire system across the state. It also shows that Wisconsin providers continue to evolve as health care changes and they focus on improving important aspects of the care they provide.”

Earlier this year, Wisconsin’s health care industry was named the sixth-best in the country for access by a New York-based financial planning firm called SmartAsset. A separate study done by a health care startup based in New Jersey called Vitals ranked Milwaukee the second-best city in the country in terms of access to care.

But health care costs in Wisconsin are comparatively high.

The results of a study conducted by the Health Care Cost Institute that analyzed claims data from three of the nation’s largest insurers found medical services for commercially insured patients under the age of 65 cost 81 percent more in Wisconsin than the national average. Cost of care in Wisconsin was found to be the second-highest in the nation behind only Alaska.

Though Wisconsin ranked high overall, racial disparities exist in terms of quality of care. Care ranked above average or average on most metrics for white patients, average on most metrics for Hispanic patients and average or below average on most metrics for Black patients.

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Ben Stanley
Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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