Amid the times in which we live, healthcare is crucial and literally life-saving.
But in any year, in any climate, healthcare is an important consideration of where to live and how to protect your family during emergencies, for daily wellness and with preventative medicine.
The proximity to both quality and quantity of doctors and hospitals and the affordability of physicians' visits and prescriptions are all factors in what makes any one city better for family and personal healthcare than another.
To evaluate the best cities for healthcare, we took a dive into the data from the 100 largest cities in the U.S. and calculated the number of hospitals, medical centers, clinics, physicians and surgeons per capita in each city. We also looked at the average cost of healthcare in each area.
Each city was scored based on these factors to determine its healthcare availability and affordability. Here are the 10 best cities for healthcare in the nation.
With a healthy mix of retirees and seniors, tourists and beachgoers, the wealthy and suave, Cubans and Puerto Ricans, zoomers and business moguls, Miami is a diverse city with diverse healthcare needs. Thankfully, Miami-Dade is also a hub for affordable and robust healthcare.
The most populated city among our top 10, it also ranks high nationally offering the second-most hospitals of any city in America (a dozen more than even New York City) and the most per capita, the second-most medical centers and clinics in the country and the most per capita, and the 13th-most physicians and surgeons in the entire U.S.
Healthcare is so important in Miami that the city features an entire neighborhood known as the Health District, a center for hospitals, research organizations, clinics, medical centers and biotech institutes, including facilities like Jackson Memorial Hospital and educational institutions like the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. This district is America's second-highest concentration of medical and research facilities in one area.
A diverse city like Miami is also diverse when it comes to the cost of living and the economy, which leads to a wide range of costs for medical care as well as rental properties. The monthly rent for an average one-bedroom apartment is priced at $2,561.
The second of three Florida cities on the list is Tampa, the largest on the state's western coast and the third-largest overall along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The city offers 23 hospitals, including the century-old Tampa General Hospital at the tip of the Davis Islands and Moffitt Cancer Center, the only comprehensive cancer center based in Florida, which was rated among the top 10 cancer hospitals in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
But most notably, Tampa is the world headquarters for the international pediatric non-profit medical organization Shriners Hospitals for Children. The network of 22 hospitals and medical facilities specializing in orthopedic conditions, burns and spinal cord injuries offers care for patients under 18, regardless of ability to pay. In addition to being the organization's home city, Shriners Hospitals has a facility in Tampa, concentrating on pediatric orthopedics.
Tampa is also an affordable city for those in need of prescriptions, coming in at No. 2 among our top 10 for lowest average prescription drug prices, and the fourth-lowest costs in the entire nation. And for renters, the Florida Gulf Coast is a cheaper locale than the cities of South Florida and around Miami-Dade. On average, a one-bedroom apartment lists for a monthly lease price of $1,477.
In 1900, just two years after the city of Tulsa incorporated, four city leaders and a surgeon opened the city's first hospital amidst the smallpox epidemic in a small cottage in Greenwood. Soon the hospitals that would become Oklahoma State University Medical Center, Hillcrest Hospital and Ascension St. John Medical Center would follow, establishing Tulsa as a premiere healthcare center in the midwest.
But when healthcare in Tulsa is the topic, the discussion must include the most well-known medical facility in the city. The flagship institution of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America's 10-location system is a major facility in Tulsa, originally located at CityPlex Towers and now housed in its own large campus in South Tulsa. CTCA's Tulsa center was ranked as “High Performing" for both colon and lung cancer surgery.
As recently as 2016, Tulsa was ranked among the bottom 10 in overall healthcare quality in the nation but has seen a marked increase in the last few years in categories like affordability, prevention, treatment, avoidable use, cost and outcomes. Tulsa is also one of the top destinations for renters in the state, an affordable locale in the up-and-coming Ozark Plateau region, with a one-bedroom apartment renting on average for $688 a month.
The city of Scottsdale is just one-sixth the size of Phoenix, the metropolis of which is just its third-largest suburb. It's the 16th smallest city among the 100 we analyzed for this study, with the 78th fewest hospitals of any large city in the nation, and the 53rd fewest per capita.
But as Arizona, in general, is the second-most popular state for retirees and Scottsdale, in particular, lists one in five of its residents aged over 65 and a median age a full 11 years older than neighboring Phoenix, it requires a local need for a more robust healthcare community.
The features that attract seniors to Scottsdale are similar to the ones that make it a healthcare leader despite its size. Arizona's dry climate and warm temperatures can ease an aching body and help unburden respiratory difficulties. Jobs for seniors are in abundance in Scottsdale, the most in the entire state, in fact. Even the world-famous Mayo Clinic opened one of its merely three major campuses in the suburb.
It's also one of the most attractive cities for medical professionals, ranking in Medscape's “Best Places to Practice" for doctors in America, citing Scottsdale's high scores in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and its numerous golf courses. The city that's the fourth overall cheapest city to purchase ibuprofen is also affordable for renters. An average one-bedroom unit rents for just $1,798 a month.
When it comes to healthcare, the city of Pittsburgh is a city of firsts. The city is home to America's first hospital west of the Atlantic coast, its first military hospital and the nation's first Mercy hospital. Doctors in Pittsburgh shepherded modern brain surgery, heart-lung transplants for cystic fibrosis patients, pediatric liver, heart, lung, kidney and limb transplants and robotic arm replacement technology. Much of this is thanks to local surgeon, the late Dr. Thomas Starzl, nicknamed the “Father of Modern Transplantation."
The city's healthcare is also well decorated, including the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center which has appeared on the U.S. News and World Report's "Best Hospitals Honor Roll" every year this millennium and is the busiest transplant center in the world. As well, the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh ranks as one of the 10 best facilities in the country for pediatric medicine. It's a city with an abundance of healthcare available, having both the second-most hospitals and second-most doctors per capita of any in the nation.
For those recovering or managing an illness or chronic issues, Pittsburgh offers the least expensive average prescription medicine price of our top 10 and the second cheapest in the entire country. And while Pittsburgh exists within a state along the northeastern corridor, its mostly-Midwest geography and economy allow apartments to list as relatively less expensive compared to east coast cities. Just $1,609 a month will cover the rent for an average one-bedroom unit.
The city of St. Louis is known for many things, from toasted ravioli to Cards baseball, Ted Drewes to not calling Panera “Panera," to that giant arch on the river. But the Gateway City is also a national healthcare leader. Just more than two decades ago, the Daughters of Charity National Health System and Sisters of St. Joseph Health System merged to create Ascension. The healthcare giant now features a national footprint, managing the second-most number of hospitals in the entire nation.
In total, the city counts 26 hospitals in all, with another — the NorthSide Regeneration Hospital — hopefully on its way to eliminate a North City hospital desert. Aside from the Ascension facilities, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital, operated by BJC HealthCare, and Saint Louis University Hospital are among the city's top employers, as are medical schools Washington University School of Medicine and Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
Partly because of the ubiquity of facilities, healthcare is also relatively affordable within St. Louis. The city features the most doctors per capita of any in the nation with an astonishing 2,170 for every 10,000 residents, and also offers the sixth least expensive average doctor visit in America — and the cheapest among our top 10 — averaging at just $73.60. That affordability also extends to lease housing, with the average rental unit priced at $1,325 a month on average for a one-bedroom.
The Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area has long been known as one of the top healthcare communities in the nation. In fact, 14 Metroplex hospitals were ranked among U.S. News and World Report's “Best Hospitals." But of all the cities and towns around DFW, it's the northeastern satellite city of Plano, the region's fourth-largest city, that tops the list for best healthcare city in North Texas.
Ten hospitals dot Plano, with a total of nearly 1,400 beds, including a number of industry leaders. The Children's Medical Center Plano is one of the largest pediatric facilities in the nation, dedicated to caring exclusively for those under 18. Baylor Scott & White – The Heart Hospital Plano is the only full-service dedicated heart and vascular health hospital in the region. And both Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano and Medical Center of Plano are among U.S. News' highest-ranked medical facilities.
Considering those institutions, it's clear why Plano, despite its suburban status, has the ninth-most hospitals per capita in the nation and ranks third overall for healthcare affordability. It's also a much cheaper place to live than in the two big cities in its region and many of its suburban neighbors. On average, a one-bedroom apartment rents for $1,575 a month.
While just the 29th largest city in the nation overall, Baltimore ranks as the largest among our top 10. This disconnect highlights the issues with some of the biggest metropolitan areas in the U.S. The more people you have in your city, the harder it is to not have healthcare stretched thin and the higher the cost of living to keep prices down. That's why Baltimore, as large a city as it is, still ranks tied for third in our top 10.
Of course, you can't consider healthcare in Baltimore without mentioning the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital, one of the world's great medical institutions. The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System is the second-largest employer in the city and the state (behind only the University itself).
Founded more than 130 years ago, Johns Hopkins Hospital is regarded as one of the founding institutions of modern medical care in America, where now-standard practices such as medical residencies and doing rounds were first established. It was also the birthplace of fields like neurosurgery, heart surgery and child psychiatry.
While Hopkins is the most well known, the city offers a number of other top-level medical centers including second-ranked Mercy Medical Center, the private Sinai Hospital and St. Agnes Hospital teaching hospital. Even with top-level healthcare, Baltimore is still a major East Coast city. While not as expensive as places like New York or Boston, a one-bedroom apartment rents for a monthly average of $1,722.
Lexington can thank a number of factors for its No. 2 ranking in the nation. First, it sits in the heart of the rising Southeastern tech and healthcare corridor where states like Georgia and North Carolina have become leading research centers. Second, its location away from the higher costs of living on the coasts and in larger cities, keeps prices for important medical factors down, coming in as the second-most affordable city in the U.S. for healthcare. And third, Lexington is a college town with a major public university, and the University of Kentucky College of Medicine has been a leading research facility on everything from opioids to HPV to endocarditis.
The city has a long history of leadership in healthcare, specifically for those suffering from the effects of abuse of controlled substances. Nearly a century ago in the midst of the Great Depression, the U.S. Public Health Service established the Addiction Research Center at its Lexington hospital. The revolutionary facility was one of the first drug rehab clinics in America, which later expanded the program into the first full-blown alcohol and drug rehabilitation hospital in the nation.
While its geographic seat away from megacities, coastal costs of living and its status as a college town help seed the healthcare boom in Lexington, those factors also keep rent costs down. An average one-bedroom apartment leases for $928 a month.
If you have even a passing knowledge about the demographics of Florida, it's no surprise that the state places three cities into the top 10 in the nation. The state ranks second overall for the highest percentage of seniors (just a hair less than Maine with one-twentieth of the population) and second overall for the most elderly citizens (behind only California which has the sixth-lowest percentage of residents who are seniors). It's a state where the aging live, and quality (and quantity) of healthcare flourishes. And the best spot in the state for healthcare is the vacation destination city of Orlando.
Orlando's healthcare system is growing. Just in recent years, the city has seen the opening of the brand new Nemours Children's Hospital and a new Veterans Administration Hospital, both at the Lake Nona neighborhood's Medical City Campus, as well as the new College of Medicine at the University of Central Florida.
Those facilities join the existing Orlando Health and AdventHealth non-profit hospital systems, including the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies and AdventHealth Orlando, as well as Orlando Regional Medical Center's Level I trauma center, among its 28 hospitals.
It stands to reason that Orlando also ranks among the highest in the nation in several healthcare categories, including the third-most hospitals per capita, the third-most medical centers and clinics per capita and the fourth-most doctors per capita. That's pretty good coverage and makes Orlando our best city in America for healthcare.
Hospitals, doctors and healthcare are available for Disney and Universal tourists and Orlando full-timers alike. But if you want to make the Happiest (and Healthiest) Place on Earth your permanent home, expect to pay $1,532 a month on average for a one-bedroom apartment.
The remainder of the top 50 best cities for healthcare cuts across geographic, cultural and economic lines, from small cities like Des Moines and Baton Rouge to massive cities like Houston and Phoenix, it includes East Coast suburbs, middle of the country Midwestern ZIP Codes and college towns.
|Rank||City||State||Population||Healthcare Cost of Living Index||Hospitals Per Capita (100k)||Medical Centers & Clinics Per Capita (100k)||Physicians & Surgeons Per Capita (100k)|
To determine the best cities for healthcare, we started with the 100 most populated cities in the country according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2018 estimates. We then used a database of 8 million commercially licensed business listings to find the number of hospitals, medical centers, clinics, physicians and surgeons in each area. Finally, we weighted each city by its per capita calculation (per 100,000 residents) for each category and the average healthcare cost of living in 2019 (the national average is 100) from the Council for Community and Economic Research. Cities with the most favorable mix of high per capita numbers and low cost of living were considered to be the best for healthcare in our quantitative report.
El Paso, TX; Laredo, TX and Fresno, CA were excluded from our analysis due to insufficient cost of living data.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com's multifamily rental property inventory from March 2019 to March 2020. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.