The Commonwealth Fund ranks the Texas healthcare system the third worst in the nation. Texas ranks close to last in access to healthcare, quality of care, avoidable hospital spending, and equity among various groups. Causes of the state's poor rankings include politics, a high poverty rate, and the highest rate of illegal immigration in the nation. In May 2006, Texas initiated the program "code red" in response to the report that the state had 25.1% of the population without health insurance, the largest proportion in the nation. Texas also has controversial non-economic damages caps for medical malpracticelawsuits, set at $250,000, in an attempt to "curb rising malpractice premiums, and control escalating healthcare costs".
The Trust for America's Health ranked Texas 15th highest in adult obesity, with 27.2% of the state's population measured as obese. The 2008 Men's Health obesity survey ranked four Texas cities among the top 25 fattest cities in America; Houston ranked 6th, Dallas 7th, El Paso 8th, and Arlington 14th. Texas had only one city, Austin, ranked 21st, in the top 25 among the "fittest cities" in America. The same survey has evaluated the state's obesity initiatives favorably with a "B+". The state is ranked forty-second in the percentage of residents who engage in regular exercise.
Many elite research medical centers are located in Texas. The state has nine medical schools, three dental schools, and one optometry school. Texas has two Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories: one at The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, and the other at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio—the first privately owned BSL-4 lab in the United States.
The Texas Medical Center in Houston, holds the world's largest concentration of research and healthcare institutions, with 47 member institutions. Texas Medical Center performs the most heart transplants in the world.The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is a highly regarded academic institution that centers around cancer patient care, research, education and prevention.
San Antonio's South Texas Medical Center facilities rank sixth in clinical medicine research impact in the United States. The University of Texas Health Science Center is another highly ranked research and educational institution in San Antonio.
Both the American Heart Association and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center call Dallas home. The Southwestern Medical Center ranks "among the top academic medical centers in the world". The institution's medical school employs the most medical school Nobel laureates in the world.