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SC healthcare performance among worst in US, new scorecard shows. How the state is struggling

South Carolina ranks 37th in the U.S. in overall healthcare performance and among the bottom tier in several key metrics, a new nationwide scorecard shows.

The Commonwealth Fund, a nonpartisan healthcare foundation, released its annual scorecard on Thursday. The scorecard reviewed all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 58 indicators, from reproductive and women’s health and access and affordability, to prevention and income disparity. The scorecard was based mostly on data from 2021, the most recent available.

All states experienced large increases in avoidable deaths from 2019 to 2021, due mostly to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report states. Also, black and American Indian/Alaska Native people, two of the groups most affected by COVID-19, experienced some of the highest rates of avoidable mortality in many states.

Here is how South Carolina ranked in the scorecard’s key metrics.

  • Reproductive & women’s health: 42nd

  • Access & affordability: 39th

  • Prevention & treatment: 34th

  • Healthy lives: 42nd

  • Income disparity: 41st

  • Racial & ethnic health equity: 46th

Best performance for South Carolina

  • Primary care spending as share of total, age 65 and older

  • Ensuring more children receive needed mental health care

  • Home health patients with improved mobility

Where SC improved the most

  • Ensuring more children receive needed mental health care

  • Employee total potential out-of-pocket medical costs as a share of state median income

  • Potentially avoidable emergency department visits age 65 and older

Worst performance for South Carolina

  • High out-of-pocket medical spending

  • People with medical debt

  • Youth with depression who did not receive mental health services

Where SC worsened the most

  • Drug overdose deaths

  • All-cause mortality rate per 100,000 women ages 15-44

  • Premature deaths from preventable diseases

Ways SC can improve

The authors of the report also suggested several policy strategies to improve health system performance in South Carolina and the other states.

  • Reduce the number of deaths from preventable causes: Policymakers can lower insurance and administrative barriers for addiction treatment and boost investment in good primary care by expanding the primary care workforce and fully integrating behavioral healthcare with primary and pediatric care services.

  • Continue making coverage more affordable and care more accessible: Congress can close the Medicaid coverage gap by creating a federal insurance option for people with low income in states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility. It also can make the American Rescue Plan Act’s marketplace premium subsidy enhancements permanent and allow longer continuous Medicaid eligibility.

  • Strengthen reproductive and women’s health care: Steps include, extending postpartum coverage in Medicaid to 12 months, supporting policies that advance reproductive care at all stages, from family planning, abortion services and maternity care to postpartum and well-woman care. Can also fund community-based organizations that improve maternal health outcomes and racial equity and grow and diversify the maternal health workforce.