Tennessee’s Health Care System Ranks As Seventh Worst In The Nation

Tennessee’s Health Care System Ranks Among The Worst In The U.S. Largely Due To The State’s Relatively Low Spending On Health Care And Hospitals As Well As Fewer Than Average Numbers Of Health Professionals Per Capita.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

Photo Credit: Dave Olecko / CC

Published May 21, 2021

By Hristina Byrnes and Grant Suneson [24/7 Wall St. via The Center Square] –

The U.S. health care system faced new levels of scrutiny in the past year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There were shortages of medical masks, ICU beds, as well as nurses. But even before the pandemic, some states were much better equipped to handle both everyday health needs — and the pandemic — than others.

There are many states in which residents are much more likely to lack health care insurance. In many of these states, there are also fewer medical professionals relative to the population, which can hinder access to care, as well as underfunded medical hospitals.

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The health care system in Tennessee ranks as the seventh worst in the country.

Tennessee’s health care system ranks among the worst in the U.S. largely due to the state’s relatively low spending on health care and hospitals as well as fewer than average numbers of health professionals per capita. The state spends $111 per person on health care and $56 per resident on hospitals, both well below the respective nationwide per capita figures of $205 and $294.

Tennessee residents may also have a harder time accessing certain health specialists than people in other states. There are 157.7 mental health providers per 100,000 residents in the state compared to 261.2 per 100,000 in the U.S. as a whole.

The state ranks lower in the number of dentists per 100,000 residents with 55.5 dentists per 100,000 residents in the state compared to 71.2 per 100,000 people nationwide. Just over a fifth of Tennessee adults report being in poor or fair health, the seventh highest share in the country.

To identify the states with the worst health care systems, 24/7 Wall St. constructed an index comprising six health measures for each state: the share of residents without health insurance, state spending on health care as well as on hospitals per capita, and the number of dentists, doctors, and mental health providers per 100,000 people. Each of these measures was weighted equally in the index. 

These are the 25 states with the worst health care system:

RankStateUninsured rateAdults in poor or fair healthPremium contribution, single coverageState spending on health care per capita
18North Dakota6.9%13.6%$98.50$188
17South Carolina10.8%17.8%$111.58$247
16North Carolina11.3%18.0%$115.92$164
15West Virginia6.7%23.6%$113.08$160
13South Dakota10.2%13.4%$120.17$178
Source 24/7 Wall St.
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3 thoughts on “Tennessee’s Health Care System Ranks As Seventh Worst In The Nation

  • May 21, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    I am not confident that the data is not skewed by liberal bias by those pushing for universal health care.

    Granted, we do have a problem with small town hospitals but, if you go to a better facility for serious medical conditions, you do much better.

    I do agree that those without insurance should be cared for but that is largely a problem with insurance companies being overly zealous in making big profits.

    • May 22, 2021 at 1:44 pm

      Atoka, pop 7,000, doesn’t have a hospital, has 1 GP or Family doctor, 1 Pediatrician, 3 Physio places, 2 of which has little business. Minor stuff handled by Kroger’s Little Clinic. A new ‘we don’t take Medicare’ Minor Med. 2 drug stores, Walgreens, or Kroger’s. You go to Memphis for major medical. The Frazer hospital is a JUNKIE HAVEN, along with crime. We were warned by our neighbor a former nurse of the Covington hospital Not to take your dog their. Not well staffed, or large enough to handle major needs.

      Nor does Millington, baseline pop 15,00. Navy base no longer has a hospital or medical, nor are included in pop count. Couple more doctors/dentist. Both towns have high Retired Military pop. Medicare/Tricare Life if over 65. DICTATED/MANDATED CONTROLLED. Allusion of freedom as you can chose Dr or Hospital. Meds are what are on the Formulary daily meds MUST BE OBTAINED FROM BASE OR EXPRESS SCRIPTS. Better hope Base Pharmacy is open. Closed weekends, after 3:30 pm, training days, Fed Holidays. ER med depends on the med cost to get at local pharmacy, COMMON ones.

      Germantown Rd is Doctors Row. On or off it. Few want to go to downtown crime riddled main section of Memphis. To many shootings, carjackings.

  • May 21, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    Regardless of the statics used to validate your article, my wife & I have received the absolutely best health care possible from Vanderbilt Medical Group & The Williamson Medical hospital ! On par or perhaps somewhat superior than we received from our previous providers in Oklahoma prior to year 2009!


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