Southeast States, D.C. Rank Lowest for Senior Health Care — But Are Senior Living Hotbeds

The Southeast U.S. and Washington, D.C. are hotbeds for senior housing development.

But the regions lag behind most other areas of the country when it comes to providing affordable, quality health care for older adults. That is according to a new report from Medicare Guide, which studied a host of factors to rank the 50 states and District of Columbia on health care cost, access and quality.

The factors studied by the online Medicare resource included physicians, specialists, care aides, rural health clinics and nursing homes per capita; out-of-pocket costs for health care spending, prescription drug prices, and assisted living and skilled nursing facilities; and life expectancy and disease rates for myriad chronic conditions common among seniors including heart disease, strokes, Type 2 Diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.


Minnesota topped the rankings, followed by North Dakota, Massachusetts, California and Nebraska. The Gopher State also had the lowest monthly health insurance premiums and best mortality rate for heart disease.

Coincidentally, Minnesota was among four markets identified by Senior Housing News in November 2020 where a strong housing sales market can bolster senior living. Median home prices in Minneapolis in October 2020 increased 9.7% over the previous year, and home sales improved 26% in that span. 

Conversely, Washington, D.C. — with 2,140 senior housing units under construction in 2019 — ranked 49th on Medicare Guide’s list. Oklahoma rounded out the rankings, and southeastern states accounted for most of the bottom 20% including Kentucky (40th), South Carolina (42nd), Tennessee (43rd), North Carolina (45th), Mississippi (48th), and Georgia (50th).


Tennessee had the worst prescription drug prices per capita. Mississippi ranked worst in several categories including physicians per capita, cancer mortality, stroke mortality, and Alzheimer’s disease mortality.

Georgia is one of the more desirable states for senior housing developers. Atlanta, in particular, had 3,077 new senior housing units under construction in 2019, accounting for 15.1% of its total inventory in the first quarter of that year.

Given the Medicare Guide findings, senior living developers in Southeastern states may be well-advised to consider the health care options available to their residents. And in areas where older adults have fewer affordable options for care, senior living providers might want to consider creative ways to bring more services on-site — a growing trend throughout the industry in the wake of Covid-19, and in light of changes to payment systems like Medicare Advantage.

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