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SmartAsset: Best States for Women's Healthcare - 2022 Study

According to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey for June 1 to June 13, 2022, a little over one in seven women report being in poorer health, and more challenges are afoot. Recent legal changes concerning abortion have restricted access to women’s healthcare in some states. With this in mind, SmartAsset examined data to rank which states are best for women’s healthcare.

To uncover the best states for women’s healthcare, SmartAsset analyzed data for all 50 states across a total of 11 metrics, divided into three categories: access to care, affordability and general health & wellbeing. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, read the Data and Methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • Northeastern states dominate the top-ranking states. Seven out of the top 10 states belong to this region and stand out in two of our three categories: access to care and health & wellbeing. The majority of these states also offer family medical leave, and in all seven states, abortion is currently legal.
  • Women spend roughly 6% of their income on medical expenses yearly. The states with the highest medical spending are South Carolina (7.81%), Mississippi (7.64%) and Alabama (7.30%), all of which rank in the bottom seven states for our affordability category.


1. Hawaii

The Aloha state ranks second-highest in two of the three categories we considered: affordability and health & wellbeing. In terms of affordability, only roughly 6% of women did not see a doctor due to cost in the past 12 months. Additionally, women in the state spend 4.16% of their income on medical expenses.

2. Massachusetts

Massachusetts ranks best in the health & wellbeing category. Specifically, Massachusetts has the lowest percentage of women who report being in fair or poor health (11%). The state also has the second-highest percentage of women who have had a mammogram in the past two years (80%). In terms of mental health, the percentage of women feeling anxious or depressed in the past two weeks is low relative to the rest of the country: 21.91% report feeling anxious, and 13.85% report feeling depressed.

3. Rhode Island

Rhode Island has the highest ranking for access to care and the lowest percentage of uninsured women (3.84%). Currently, abortion in the state is legal. Additionally, Rhode Island offers both family medical leave and school-related parental leave. Women in the state also have access to roughly 41.05 obstetricians and gynecologists (per 10,000 women), which is the fifth-highest amount for this metric.

4. Minnesota

This Midwestern state ranks third-best in the affordability category. In Minnesota, women spend roughly 5.21% of their income on medical expenses (10th-lowest). The state also has the sixth-lowest percentage of women enrolled in Medicaid (10%), and roughly 8% of Minnesota women did not see a doctor in the past 12 months due to cost (ninth-lowest, tying with six other states).

5. Connecticut

Connecticut excels most in access to care and general health & wellbeing. Abortion is legal in the state as of July 2022. There are also 47.24 obstetricians and gynecologists for every 10,000 women in Connecticut. And when it comes to mental health, Connecticut has the second-lowest percentage of women who report experiencing feelings of depression in the past two weeks (10.84%).

6. New Hampshire

Overall, New Hampshire ranks well for affordability of care. Women in the state can expect to spend roughly 5.57% of their income on medical expenses annually, and just 9% of women reported not seeing a doctor due to cost (16th-lowest). About one in 10 women in New Hampshire are on Medicaid, and just 5.87% are uninsured (14th-lowest).

7. Maryland

Maryland scores best in the affordability category: women spend roughly 4.69% of their income on medical expenses annually (sixth-lowest). Similarly, just 8% of women in the state avoided a doctor’s visit due to cost (ninth-lowest, tying with six other states). Maryland also offers great access to obstetricians and gynecologists with roughly 41 available for every 10,000 women (fourth-highest). Currently, abortion is legal in the state of Maryland.

8. New York

The Empire State scores highest in the access to care category, as well as health & wellbeing, ranking fifth-best in both categories. Here’s why: Women have access to 40.94 obstetricians and gynecologists for every 10,000 women (sixth-highest). Additionally, state family leave policies offer unpaid family medical leave, and currently, abortion is legal in New York.

9. New Jersey

Roughly 12% of women in the Garden State report being in fair or poor health (11th-lowest) and less than 23% of this population reports feelings of anxiety or depression in the last two weeks (ranking ninth- and sixth-lowest, respectively). Abortion is currently legal in New Jersey. Also, state policy allows for unpaid family medical leave.

10. Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the percentage of women who have reported not seeing a doctor due to cost is the ninth-lowest, tying with six other states (8%). This could be partly influenced by the low percentage of income spent on medical expenses (5.40%). Additionally, less than 6% of women are uninsured, and Pennsylvania women also have access to 33.32 obstetricians and gynecologists (for every 10,000 women).

Data and Methodology

To determine the best states for women’s healthcare, we examined data on all 50 states and compared them across 11 metrics spanning three categories:

  • Access to care. For our access to care category, we looked at four metrics: obstetricians and gynecologists per 10,000 women, access to parental leave, percentage of women uninsured and abortion legality. Data comes from the Health Resources & Services Administration, the National Conference of State Legislatures, Census Bureau’s 5-year 2020 American Community Survey and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). All data is for 2020.
  • Affordability. This consists of the percentage of income spent on medical expenses, the percentage of women who did not see a doctor in the past 12 months due to cost and the percentage of women enrolled in Medicaid. Data comes from Census Bureau’s 5-year 2020 American Community Survey, MIT Living Wage Calculator and Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). All data is for 2020 except the MIT Living Wage Calculator.
  • Health & wellbeing. Four metrics comprise this category: percentage of women in fair or poor health, percentage of women often feeling anxious, percentage of women feeling depressed and percentage of women (aged 40 or older) who had a mammogram in the past two years. Data comes from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) for 2020 and the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey for June 1 to June 13, 2022.

First, we ranked each state in each metric, assigning an equal weight to all but two metrics: percentage of women often feeling anxious and percentage of women often feeling depression, which are half-weighted. Then we averaged the rankings across the three categories listed above.

For each category, the state with the highest average ranking received a score of 100. The state with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0. We compiled our final list by averaging category scores, giving a full weight to all categories.

Tips for Handling the Financial Strain of Healthcare

  • Recoup recent medical spending. Medical bills can get expensive, but deducting expenses on your taxes could lower your overall spending. Learn more about your options for taking a deduction and how to plan for these types of expenses in your retirement.
  • Work with a financial expert to make sure you’re prepared for the unexpected. Medical costs can pop up at any time and strain your savings. A financial advisor can help you plan for future medical expenses while maximizing your assets. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock/SDI Productions

Anja Solum Anja Solum is a data journalist at SmartAsset covering a variety of personal finance topics, including retirement and debt management. Before joining SmartAsset, she worked on both agency and in-house content marketing teams where she developed her love for data analysis and visualization. In her free time, she nurtures a passion for gaming, a recent addiction to anime & KDramas, and a mischievous labrador retriever. A bit of a nomad, she’s lived in Norway, Jamaica, and Denmark in addition to the U.S. but now resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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