Kentucky ranks 32nd in best states to have a baby

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Thinking about having a baby? For the analytical types, a new study offers some guidance on the best states to have one and where to avoid.

Kentucky ranks 32nd on the list and while it’s not great, it’s better than many neighboring states.

Having a baby is both a joyful and stressful occasion – but the stress side is more amplified in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pregnant women might have an increased risk of severe illness or birth complications due to coronavirus, according to the CDC. In addition, due to social distancing, some mothers may receive less after-birth support from friends and family.

Aside from the difficulty of giving birth during a public health crisis, new mothers will also have to worry about the cost. One of the biggest expenses to keep in mind is medical bills.

The average conventional delivery in the U.S. costs over $10,000. Insurance plays a big role as well.

Birthing costs, however, won’t hit the wallet as badly in some states as they will in others. Expenses can vary significantly, considering the wide disparities in cost of living.

They can also differ from one pregnancy to another, given that some women experience delivery complications.

But there’s more to think about than just cost. Some states provide better quality health care service and better environments in which to care for children.

To determine the most ideal places in the U.S. to have a baby, personal finance web site WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 32 key measures of cost and health care accessibility, as well as baby- and family-friendliness.

The data set ranges from hospital conventional-delivery charges to annual average infant-care costs to pediatricians per capita.

Coming it 32nd, Kentucky ranked good in some areas and worse in others. It is ninth lowest in costs and 17th in baby friendliness, but 31st in health care and 36 in family friendliness.

Of the neighboring states, Illinois ranked highest at 20th while Ohio was 28th. Indiana came in 35th, Missouri, 36th, West Virginia 38th and Tennessee 39th.

Best States to Have a Baby Worst States to Have a Baby
1. Massachusetts           42. Nevada
2. Minnesota               43. Oklahoma
3. Vermont                 44. North Carolina
4. North Dakota            45. Florida
5. Rhode Island            46. Arkansas
6. New Hampshire           47. Georgia
7. District of Columbia    48. Louisiana
8. Maine                   49. Mississippi
9. Washington              50. South Carolina
10. Connecticut            51. Alabama

Best vs. Worst

*     Mississippi has the lowest average annual cost for early child care, $4,060, which is 3.9 times lower than in the District of Columbia, the highest at $15,860.

*     Alaska has the lowest share of childbirths with low birth weight, 5.85 percent, which is 2.1 times lower than in Mississippi, the highest at 12.12 percent.

*     The District of Columbia has the most obstetricians and gynecologists (per 100,000 residents), 26, which is 13 times more than in Louisiana, the fewest at 2.

*     Massachusetts has the highest parental leave policy score, 160, while 9 states, such as Alabama, Michigan and South Dakota, tie for the lowest at 0.

In order to determine the best and worst states to have a baby, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across four key dimensions: 1) Cost, 2) Health Care, 3) Baby-Friendliness and 4) Family-Friendliness.

We evaluated those dimensions using 32 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for expectant parents and newborns.

Finally, we determined each state and the District’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

Cost – Total Points: 20

  • Hospital Cesarean-Delivery Charges: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)
  • Hospital Conventional-Delivery Charges: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)
  • Average Annual Cost of Early Child Care: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)
  • Average Health-Insurance Premiums: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)
  • Current Status of Medicaid Expansion Decision: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)
    Note: We included this metric because Medicaid Expansion helps cover a greater amount of birthing costs.
  • Cost of Babysitter/Nanny: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)
  • Cost of Newborn Screening: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)

Health Care – Total Points: 40

  • WalletHub “States with the Best Health Infrastructure for Coronavirus” Score: Triple Weight (~5.65 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “States with the Best Health Infrastructure for Coronavirus” ranking.
  • Positive COVID-19 Testing Rate of Last 4 Weeks: Triple Weight (~5.65 Points)
    Note: This metric represents the average weekly positive COVID-19 testing rate of last 4 weeks per 100,000 population.
  • Infant Mortality Rate (per 1,000 Live Births): Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
  • Maternal Mortality Ratio (per 100,000 Live Births): Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
  • Rate of Low Birth-Weight: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
  • Rate of Preterm Births: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
  • Low or Very Low Food Security for Babies: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
  • Share of Children with All Seven Recommended Vaccines: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
    Note: “Recommended vaccines” include the following: DTaP vaccine; polio vaccine; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine; Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine; varicella (chicken pox) vaccine; hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine; and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). “Children” include the population aged 19 to 35 months.
  • Quality of Women’s Hospitals: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals for Gynecology” score.
  • Quality of Pediatric Neonatology Facilities: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals for Pediatric Neonatology” score.
  • Midwives & Obstetrician-Gynecologists per Capita: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
  • Pediatricians & Family Doctors per Capita: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
  • Fertility Clinics per Capita: Quarter Weight (~0.47 Points)
  • mPINC Survey Score: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
    Note: The mPINC (Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care) survey is a national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to monitor and examine changes in practices over time at all hospitals and birth centers with registered maternity beds in the United States and Territories.”
  • Prenatal Care Access: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
  • Share of Children Aged 9-35 Months who Received Developmental Screening using a Parent-Completed Screening Tool: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
    Note: A parent-completed screening tool is a survey given to parents that may help identify developmental delays in their children.
  • State Medicaid Policy for Maternal Depression Screening in Well-Child Visits: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
    Note: This binary metric measures if a state has or does not have a policy regarding maternal depression screening in well-child visits.
  • State Policy for Medicaid-Covered Dyadic Treatment: Full Weight (~1.88 Points)
    Note: This binary metric measures if a state has or does not have a Medicaid-covered dyadic (parent-child) treatment.

Baby-Friendliness – Total Points: 20

  • Parental-Leave Policy Score: Double Weight (~5.71 Points)
  • Mom Groups per Capita: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)
  • Child-Care Centers per Capita: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)
  • Share of Nationally Accredited Child-Care Centers: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)
  • Birth Rate: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)
  • State Policy for Medicaid-Covered Parenting Programs: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)
    Note: This binary metric measures if a state has or does not have a Medicaid-covered parenting programs.

Family-Friendliness – Total Points: 20

  • Family-Friendliness: Full Weight (~20.00 Points)
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