Where we live determines the quality of care we get 

Mounting research suggests that where you live plays a significant role in the health care you receive.

"We've found that geography is often destiny," says James N. Weinstein, D.O., director of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, where this field of study was pioneered. "It's not that the rates of disease are different, it's the way they're treated that's different — from prevention to diagnosis to long-term care."

Luckily, you don't have to accept the health care your neighborhood allots you. By asking pointed questions of your physician, for instance, or knowing when to seek a second opinion from a specialist in another state, you can turn these differences to your advantage.

Here are the region-by-region facts, as well as local hot spots that have questionable (or progressive) practices, and — most important — how to use this information to get the very best health care, wherever you call home.