6 States With the Best Cancer Care In the U.S.


WRITTEN BY: Craig Sturgill

UPDATED: DECEMBER 07, 2022 | 3 MIN READ

In 2022, there will be an estimated 1,918,030 new cancer cases and 609,360 cancer deaths in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Regardless of a cancer patient’s location, every state has strong and weak aspects of local cancer care. Learn more about the states with the best and worst cancer care, similar findings among the highest and lowest-scoring states, the best hospitals for yourself and loved ones with cancer, and more.

How state cancer care is scored

To evaluate each state’s cancer care affordability and performance, each state’s score combines their position relative to other states in the following areas:

  • Medicaid expansion status
  • Out-of-pocket maximum
  • Cheapest health insurance premium
  • The cancer death rate per 100,000 people
  • Number of hospitals per 100,000 people

Each state’s value is sorted into a quartile, with assigned points based on the quartiles for each metric. For example, a state will receive one point for placement in the first quartile, two for the second, and so on, with the sum of all quartiles as the final score. The highest cancer care score a state can receive is 20.

States with the best cancer care

Thanks to its low average medical care costs and access to care, Minnesota tops the list for best cancer care with a score of 19. Scored at 18, Arizona, Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island are all tied for second.

These top-ranking states all have the cheapest health insurance premiums compared to other states. Excluding New Mexico, these states also combine affordable health insurance with low out-of-pocket maximums and expanded Medicaid eligibility.

States with the worst cancer care

Tied with a cancer care score of 9, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma were the lowest-scoring states for cancer care. Missouri, Wyoming, West Virginia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee are close behind with scores of 10.

A vital issue is healthcare affordability among the states with the worst cancer care. With the exceptions of Mississippi and Tennessee, each of the lowest-scoring states has an out-of-pocket maximum of $8,550: the maximum allowed by law. Finally, none of the states above expanded Medicaid, except for Oklahoma and Missouri.

The highest-scoring states for cancer care all have cheaper monthly premiums than the rest of the country, low out-of-pocket maximums, and expanded Medicaid eligibility.

Low insurance costs

Minnesota, Arizona, Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have cheaper monthly health insurance premiums than the rest of the country, so it’s easier for patients to receive care from providers in their networks.

Low out-of-pocket maximums

Many of the highest-scoring states for cancer care combine cheap health insurance with low out-of-pocket maximums. Out-of-pocket maximums are the highest amount you’ll pay for covered services from healthcare professionals, like oncology and other treatment plans, patient care, and more.

Expanded Medicaid eligibility

The best-scoring states for cancer care have expanded Medicaid eligibility, meaning people who typically wouldn’t qualify for Medicaid or tax credits can receive affordable health coverage. Under these expanded Medicaid laws, more patients have access to cancer screenings and cancer treatments, such as cell therapy, immunotherapy, and more.

The lowest-scoring states for cancer care have expensive premiums, high out-of-pocket maximums, and poor access to Medicaid, leading to higher rates of uninsured people.

Expensive premiums

Some of the cheapest providers in the low-scoring states have some of the most expensive premiums compared to the rest of the country. As many people may not be able to afford high premiums, many residents may opt to go without coverage or enroll in low-cost plans that don’t offer coverage for cancer programs and treatments.

High out-of-pocket maximums

Most low-scoring states have an out-of-pocket maximum of $8,550, the maximum amount allowed by law. This high out-of-pocket maximum means many patients may have to pay up to $8,500 for covered services like treating lung cancer, receiving compassionate care, and more.

Poor access to Medicaid

States without expanded Medicaid experience higher rates of uninsured residents and less access to compassionate care. Because these expanded Medicaid laws aren’t in effect in these states, some residents have narrow access to cancer treatments, oncologists, and more.

The best hospitals for cancer care

U.S. News evaluated 913 hospitals that treat the following types of cancer: lung, leukemia, lymphoma, breast, kidney, melanoma, prostate, pancreatic, head and neck, orthopedic, uterine, ovarian, and colon cancers. Their top hospitals include:

  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York
  • Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts
  • UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California

U.S. News ratings are based on the following: volume of high-risk patients, patient experience, nurse and caregiver staffing, patient outcomes in the medical and surgical treatment of cancer, and cutting-edge clinical technologies and innovative treatments.

FAQs

What states have the best cancer treatment?

With a cancer care score of 19, Minnesota ranks as the top state for cancer care. Arizona, Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island tied for second.

What is the #1 cancer center in the US?

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston earned the top spot on U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-23 Best Hospitals for Cancer ranking.

What are the top 3 cancer centers in the US?

The U.S. News & World Report lists the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as the top cancer center in the U.S., with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York as second and Mayo Clinic in Minnesota as third.

What are the best cancer hospitals in Florida?

The best cancer hospitals in Florida are Mayo Clinic-Jacksonville, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, and AdventHealth Orlando.

What are the best cancer hospitals in California?

The best cancer hospitals in California are the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA Medical Center, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

What are the best cancer hospitals in Texas?

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center, and Houston Methodist Hospital are the best cancer hospitals in Texas.

Cancer Care in the US: A Review

Similar to general healthcare, each state will vary in terms of the quality of cancer treatment. For example, many states with high cancer care scores have low premiums, out-of-pocket maximums, and Medicaid eligibility. Similarly, states that rank low in cancer care have expensive premiums, out-of-pocket maximums set at the legal limit, and narrow access to Medicaid. While there are contributing factors to a high or low score, enrolling in the best health insurance for your needs and budget can make all of the difference—regardless of your location.