This year’s race for “best state to practice medicine” came down to the proverbial photo finish, with Montana edging out Wisconsin by 0.02 points, according to personal finance website WalletHub.
Montana had a total score of 69.15 out of 100 in the ranking of the best and worst states for doctors for 2019, with Wisconsin coming in at 69.13. The small degree of separation didn’t stop there, though, as third-place Idaho (68.55) and fourth-place Minnesota (68.32) both finished within a single point of the top, with Iowa a bit further behind at 67.58, WalletHub reported. In last year’s ranking, South Dakota won by more than 5 points over Nebraska, and in 2017 Iowa finished more than 2 points ahead of Minnesota.
The lowest-ranked state in 2019 was New York, with a score of 34.01 that was well below the 41.55 earned by 50th-place Washington, D.C. The rest of the bottom five was occupied by Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut, WalletHub said. New Jersey was the worst state in which to practice medicine in 2018, and New York finished last in 2017.
The rankings are based on 18 metrics across two broad categories: “opportunity and competition” (11 metrics worth 70 points) and “medical environment” (7 metrics worth 30 points). One metric in the opportunity and competition category, physicians’ average annual wage (adjusted for cost of living), was given double weight; other metrics included employer-based insurance rate, projected share of elderly population, punitiveness of state medical board, and malpractice award payout amount per capita.
Montana posted top-five scores in such areas as average physician monthly starting salary, share of medical residents retained, and presence of nationally accredited health departments. New York took big hits with bottom-five scores in adjusted average annual wage, projected competition, and annual cost of malpractice insurance, according to WalletHub.