Image of hand with arthritis pointing to state on map
Credit: Tatiana Ayazo

Key Takeaways 

  • New report from the American College of Rheumatology ranks states based on how hard or easy it is for people with a rheumatic disease to live there. 
  • Access to rheumatology care, affordability of care, and activity/lifestyle factors associated with living well with a rheumatic disease were all factored in. 
  • New York got top marks overall; Wyoming came in last.

“How easy is it to live well with a rheumatic disease in your state?” That’s exactly the question that the 2022 Rheumatic Disease Report Card, produced by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), strives to answer. The last time ACR released such a report was in 2018. 

The new report relies on data from public sources, which provided the authors with insight into how easy or difficult it is to access rheumatology care in each state, how costly such care is, and whether activity levels and other lifestyle factors in each state make it easier or more difficult to thrive despite having a rheumatic condition.   

All 50 states plus Washington, D.C. were rated on access to care, affordability, and activity/lifestyle, and points from each category were totaled. Overall, New York ranked highest; it garnered 111 out of 150 possible total points. Virginia, Maryland, California, and Illinois also ranked high. 

The lowest-scoring state was Wyoming, which got only 37 out of 150 points. South Carolina, Nevada, Mississippi, and Idaho rounded out the bottom five.  

“While significant progress has been made over the last several decades to understand and effectively treat rheumatic diseases in the United States, notable health care challenges remain for Americans living with these diseases,” the report authors lamented. “A growing shortage of rheumatology health professionals in many parts of the country — particularly in rural areas — combined with insurance barriers and rising drug costs make it difficult for the millions of individuals living with rheumatic diseases to receive timely and quality care.” 

States were also awarded a letter grade (A, B, C, D, or F) in the following individual categories, based on the number of points they accrued in those areas:

  • Access
  • Affordability
  • Activity/lifestyle

New York was the only state to get an A for access to care; Louisiana snagged the only A for affordability. For activity/lifestyle, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Utah were all awarded letter As.

“Among the seven states that received an ‘A’ grade [in this category], most had a low prevalence of activity and lifestyle limitations due to arthritis or another rheumatic disease and low rates of physical inactivity,” the authors explained, adding that “taking an active role in one’s health can make a significant difference for Americans living with a rheumatic disease, especially given the access and affordability challenges they face.”  

The authors concluded that “rheumatic disease care in the United States is at a critical juncture,” thanks to their rising prevalence, cost, and impact, noting that “the current health care landscape prevents too many patients from getting medically necessary care.” They suggested that patients, clinicians, and policymakers join forces “to address the access, affordability, and lifestyle factors that can mean the difference between a life cut short by pain and disability — and one that is well-lived.” 

You can see the full report and learn more about how your state fared at simpletasks.org/ReportCard/. 

Learn About The John Whelton Arthur Virshup CreakyJoints South Florida Arthritis Clinic

Based in South Florida, this free clinic is brought to you by the nonprofit Global Healthy Living Foundation and its arthritis patient community CreakyJoints. Through this program, individuals who are diagnosed with a rheumatic disease and demonstrate financial need can receive rheumatology care at absolutely no cost.  

This program was made possible by a team of generous rheumatologists who have agreed to see CreakyJoints South Florida Arthritis Clinic patients at no charge. To apply to be a patient at the CreakyJoints South Florida Arthritis Clinic, download the application form found here

American College of Rheumatology. Rheumatic Disease Report Card. https://simpletasks.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Rheumatic-Disease-Report-Card-US-2022.pdf.