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Shortages of primary care physicians, mental health providers and dentists limit people’s ability to seek essential preventive services and necessary treatments. Shortages tend to be greatest in rural areas. Table 6 shows the number of primary care physicians, mental health providers and dentists per 100,000 population in each state as well as the percentage of adults who reported they have a dedicated health care provider, sorted by overall 2017 ranking. The lightest shade indicates a value in the top 10, and the darkest shade indicates a value in the bottom 10. The number of health care providers per state varies greatly and primary care physicians, mental health providers and dentists are not equally represented within states. For example, Pennsylvania (No. 28) is in the top 10 states for the number of primary care physicians per 100,000 population but in the bottom 20 states for mental health providers. Adults in Pennsylvania are also more likely to have one or more people they identify as their dedicated health provider than in most other states.

The number of primary care physicians by state varies by about two to one, from more than 200 physicians per 100,000 population in the District of Columbia, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut to fewer than 100 physicians per 100,000 in Utah and Idaho. Primary care physicians is defined as the number of active primary care physicians (including general practice, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, geriatrics and internal medicine) per 100,000 population.

The number of mental health providers varies widely, with some states having six times the number of mental health providers per 100,000 population than other states. Massachusetts has the highest number at 547.3 providers per 100,000 population, while Alabama has the fewest at 85.0 providers per 100,000 population. This variation is much larger than the variation between states for primary care physicians or dentists. Mental health providers is defined as the number of psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, counselors, marriage and family therapists, providers that treat alcohol and other drug abuse and advanced practice nurses specializing in mental health care per 100,000.

The number of practicing dentists varies greatly by state from 41.2 in Arkansas to 80.7 dentists per 100,000 population in Massachusetts and New Jersey, about the same magnitude of variation as primary care physicians.

Dedicated health care providers, defined as the percentage of adults who reported having one or more people they think of as their personal doctor or health care provider, vary from 67.8 percent of adults in Alaska to 88.9 percent in Massachusetts.

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