Best Places to Live

2014 10 Best Cities for Affordable Healthcare

Staying healthy shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg. Yet across the country, health-care expenses are putting big dents in family budgets. The Top 10 Cities for Affordable Health Care offer some relief. They have the right prescription of low health-care spending; good access to hospitals, doctors and other providers; and an excellent quality of life.

To determine health-care affordability in each city, we considered Esri survey data on average per capita spending on health care and related items. While this was a big part of the equation, it wasn't the only measure we used to create this list. The full checkup included the number of area hospitals; the number of primary care physicians and dentists per capita; the number of premature deaths (years of potential life lost); and the percentage of residents exposed to unsafe drinking water.

And finally, the cities selected had to be great places to live overall, with plenty of things to do in terms of recreation, entertainment and dining. For that point, we reviewed LivScore data developed for our recent Top 100 Best Places to Live, which also includes factors such as walkability, incomes, access to locally grown food and the climate. After all, being healthy is great, but not if you're bored stiff.

Ranking Criteria
Average per capita spending on health care
Number of area hospitals
Primary care physicians and dentists per capita
Number of premature deaths
Percentage of residents exposed to unsafe drinking water
Number of recreation, entertainment and dining options
LivScore Index (composite of livability factors)
  • 10

    Burien , WA

    Population: 49,785
    Photo: Michael B.

    While Burien, WA has one major medical center, it has an unusually high ratio of primary care physicians to residents (1-887). Dentists are nearly just as prevalent here. The average Burien resident spends 92 cents for every dollar most Americans spend on health care. The city has a low number of premature deaths when compared to the rest of the country, as well as a clean environmental record.

    Small Town Living

    Located south of Seattle, with 6 scenic miles of shoreline on the Puget Sound, Burien offers a quaint escape from the big city. The city’s recently renovated downtown attracts residents who browse through boutiques, dine in ethnic restaurants and bakeries, and sip local brews. The community often gathers in a new development called Town Square, which includes a library, city hall and shops. A network of regional trails connects Burien neighborhoods with shoreline walkways, parks, shopping areas and schools. A community garden allows residents to plant crops on a common plot, while the Moshier Art Center lets artists of all levels work in studio spaces.

    Patient-Centered Approach

    Highline Medical Center, a nonprofit system, has affiliated with the Planetree organization, which takes a patient-centered approach to care. In 2010, Highline’s cancer treatment program became the only one of its kind in the state to earn the Commission on Cancer quality award for excellence.


    • High ratio of primary care physicians to residents (1-887)
    • Clean water
    • Low number of premature death cases
    • Cost of Heart Valve Surgery - $54,234*
    • Office Visit, New Patient (minor problem) - $91*

    *According to the Healthcare Bluebook

    Photo courtesy of Michael B.