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Forbes Ranks the Best and Worst States in Which to Die

  • August 20th, 2004

Utah is the state where the dying are most likely to receive the best all-around care and legal protection, according to state-by-state rankings by Forbes magazine. At the opposite end of geographic care spectrum is Washington, D.C., where the dying are least likely to receive proper treatment, the Forbes analysis suggests.

Rounding out the top five states to die in are Oregon, Delaware Colorado, and Hawaii. Following the District of Columbia at the bottom of the Forbes list are, in ascending order, Illinois, Ohio, Louisiana and Mississippi. (For the complete list, click here.)

To create its rankings of "Best Places To Die," Forbes looked at five criteria that measure the care and legal protection states provide to the dying, as well as the amount of money heirs may inherit. Here are the criteria, along with the weight Forbes assigned to each:

  • Health Care Quality. This measure was drawn from a recent report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that examined, state by state, how well patients were treated for a variety of diseases, from heart disease to pneumonia. 44 percent of total score.

  • Legal Protection. Based on a state-by-state analysis of legal protections (such as advance directive laws) by Charles Sabatino, JD, assistant director of the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging, that appeared in the 2002 report "Means to a Better End: A Report On Dying in America Today," published by Last Acts. 9 percent of score.

  • Cancer Deaths In Hospital, In Nursing Homes, Or At Home. Based on research that tracked where cancer patients were likely to die. States where more people died at home were more highly ranked. 22 percent of score.

  • Percent Of Medicare Patients Using Hospice In The Last Year Of Life. Data originally from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health that gives the percentage of Medicare patients, by state, who were cared for at home during their last year of life. 22 percent of score.

  • Estate Taxes. Computations of how large a tax bite would be taken out of a $10 million estate in each state. 4 percent of score.

The feature is accompanied by several other useful articles:

"Can We Afford to Die?", a discussion of medicine's general refusal to fully care for the dying.

"Must We Die in Pain?", a look at what's behind the hesitancy of many doctors to prescribe some of the most powerful pain medications to ease the suffering of the dying.

"Time to Move?", a state-by-state rundown of current estate tax laws. Residents of half the states now must worry about state estate taxes, special inheritance taxes or both.

A Death And Dying Resource Guide

For the feature, "Best Places To Die," go to: http://www.forbes.com/home/bestplaces/2004/08/11/b2dieland.html (Article may no longer be available.)

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Felinton Elder Law & Estate Planning Centers
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Last Modified: 08/20/2004

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