Best, Worst Cities for People With Disabilities Based on Health, Cost, and Lifestyle

Having a disability is not only a physical burden that can impair a person’s ability to run errands, such as going to the doctor’s office, but it is a cause of financial difficulty due to issues including unemployment and the cost of care.

In the United States, 1 in 5 adults are living with a disability, the most common of which is a mobility limitation, according to data from the CDC. Having a disability is not only a physical burden that can impair a person’s ability to run errands, such as going to the doctor’s office, but it is a cause of financial difficulty due to issues that can include unemployment and the cost of care.

Recently, WalletHub analyzed the best and worst cities for people with disabilities. It compared the 150 most populated cities on 3 key dimensions: economy, quality of life, and healthcare. The categories were graded using 25 relevant metrics, graded on a 100-point scale. A grade of 100 indicated the best conditions.

Metrics that were considered under healthcare included:

  • Cost of a doctor visit
  • Average per-person health insurance premium
  • Number of family doctors and general practitioners per capita
  • Quality of public hospital system
  • Percentage of uninsured population

“Many of the positive outcomes for people with disabilities in local communities are determined by the state policies,” Carol Britton Laws, director for the Institute on Human Development and Disability at the University of Georgia, told WalletHub.

Below, find the 5 best and 5 worst cities and how they received their ratings.

Best

Arizona was close to a clean sweep of the top 5 spots, but instead, it has to share with 2 states located in the Midwest.

5. Peoria, Arizona

Getting care must be a lot easier in a city like Peoria, which has one of the lowest percentages of persons with disabilities living below poverty level. The city ranked sixth for economy and it had a lower unemployment rate than nearby Phoenix.

Peoria also came in at 36th for healthcare and ranked 47th for quality of life, which takes into account things like the percentage of persons with disabilities living in the area, number of wheelchair-accessible restaurants per 1000 residents, and weather.

4. Gilbert, Arizona

Employment and housing are large factors in a person’s healthcare, and Gilbert, Arizona, does well in those areas. Gilbert has one of the highest employment rates for people with disabilities and ranked fourth for economy, which takes into account things like housing affordability, cost of living, and annual cost of in-home services. Experts on social determinants of health say that it can be difficult for people to worry about their health if they don’t have a job or the roof is falling in at home.

In addition, Gilbert, ranked 63rd for quality of life and 27th for healthcare.

3. Lincoln, Nebraska

Lincoln ranked very well on 2 categories and just fair on a third. Quality of life only ranked 41st, but Lincoln landed at 11th for economy and at fourth for healthcare.

WalletHub found that Lincoln had one of the highest employment rates for people with disabilities, which explains why it ranked so well for its economy. In addition, it is among the cities with the most family doctors and general practitioners per capita.

2. Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale’s best rank was for the economy category, which makes sense considering the city has one of the highest employment rates for people with disabilities. Other metrics that counted toward the economy category ranking were cost of living, median earnings for people with disabilities, and housing affordability.

Scottsdale didn’t rank quite so highly for the other categories. It landed at spot 39 for quality of life, and at 23 for healthcare.

1. Overland Park, Kansas

Located not too far from the geographic center of the continental United States, this Kansas City suburb received the best overall rank for people with disabilities to live. Overland Park ranked first on economy and healthcare, although it landed significantly lower for quality of life, at 78th.

WalletHub found that Overland Park has one of the lowest percentages of persons with disabilities living below poverty level.

Worst

While the CDC may have found that southern states have the highest percentages of persons with disabilities—31.5% of people in Alabama, 31.4% of people in Mississippi, and 31.4% of people in Tennessee—northern states, and particularly states in the Northeast, ranked exceptionally poorly.

5. Buffalo, New York

Like most of the cities that landed at the bottom of the list, Buffalo did not rank poorly on quality of life. It came in 66th, which actually lands it higher than Overland Park, Kansas. One of the metrics that was part of the quality of life ranking was the effectiveness of the state Medicaid program. However, Buffalo ranked very poorly for economy (134) and healthcare (144).

According to WalletHub’s analysis, Buffalo had one of the highest percentages in the country of persons with disabilities living below poverty level.

4. Rochester, New York

Like nearby Buffalo, Rochester ranked fairly well on quality of life (60), but it ranks significantly worse for economy (146) and healthcare (143). This poor performance is surprising considering Rochester actually has one of the highest percentages of persons with disabilities living in the area.

Unfortunately, for those with disabilities, Rochester also has one of the highest percentages in the country of persons with disabilities living below poverty level.

3. Providence, Rhode Island

Similar to the 2 cities before, Providence has one of the highest percentage of persons with disabilities living below poverty level, yet ranks even better (59) for quality of life.

With some of the highest costs for a doctor visit and having among the fewest family doctors and general practitioners per capita in the country, it’s no surprise that Providence ranked poorly on economy (139) and healthcare (147).

2. Anchorage, Alaska

While Anchorage performed much better on the economy rank (55) than the other cities that landed in the bottom 5, it had the second worst rank for quality of life (149) and one of the worst ranks for healthcare (145).

Anchorage has some of the highest costs for a doctor visit, and it also has one of the highest annual costs for in-home services.

1. Worcester, Massachusetts

Worchester landed at the bottom of the list with the worst environment for people with disabilities to live. It ranked last for economy (150), close to last for healthcare (139), and unlike the other cities in the bottom 5 that balanced out ranking poorly on 2 categories by doing well on a third, Worchester landed at 95th for quality of life.

According to WalletHub’s analysis, Worchester had some of the highest costs for a doctor visit.