Milwaukee ranks second in U.S. for health care access

Study examined ratio of population to physicians, patient reviews and wait times

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If you’re sick or injured, Milwaukee is one of the best cities in the country to be in, according to an annual report released Tuesday.


Vitals, a health care startup based in New Jersey that recommends highly-rated and inexpensive medical care to customers, examined data from major cities across the country and ranked Milwaukee the second-best city in terms of health care access.

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Last year, the study ranked Milwaukee third in the nation behind Cleveland and Minneapolis.

The study looks at each city’s number of hospital beds and per-capita ratio of hospitals and primary care physicians as well as patient reviews and appointment wait times.

Here’s a list of this year’s top 10 cities in descending order:

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  • Miami, Florida
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Boston, Massachusetts; Indianapolis, Indiana (tied)
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Baltimore, Maryland

Vitals executive chairman and founder Mitch Rothschild said, generally speaking, cities experiencing rapid population growth ranked lower on the list, although two cities in the top ten — Miami and Seattle — bucked that trend.

“It takes a number of years for the infrastructure to catch up,” Rothschild said. “Phoenix and San Antonio and Austin just have a tough time keeping up. Like anything else, services get strained with a growing population.”

Rothschild said the study didn’t look at health care costs as it relates to access because the difference between patient’s out-of-pocket expenses and the cost paid for through insurance claims can be dramatic.

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“Typically, it tends to follow where the better institutions are,” Rothschild said of the rankings. “If you look at the list of the top ten, it comes reasonably close to tracking the best hospitals. Miami was in there and that was not exactly what we would have expected. Nashville was not surprising at all — it’s probably the health care capital of the United States. Residents of Milwaukee should feel pretty good.”

According to the study, Milwaukee has 28 hospitals — one for every 21,244 people — and a ratio of one primary care physician for every 229 people. The average wait time for an appointment, according to Vitals data, is 15 minutes and 56 seconds. Patient reviews for overall experience averaged 4.13 stars out of five.

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