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The Cost of Health Care by State

Industry Reports • April 17, 2013 at 5:35 PM • Written by: Christina Merhar

With health care reform on the horizon, the cost of health care is on everyone's mind. How much do we spend on health care in the US? On average we spent $6,815 per person in 2009, though this figure varies widely by state. These are the findings outlined in a recent Wall Street Journal article. We've outlined key trends below.

Highest Health Care Spending in the Northeast and Low Density States

According to the WSJ report, states that spent the most on health care per resident are mostly in the Northeast and in low density states.
  • Massachusetts has the highest spending, most likely related to Massachusetts' state health care reform passed in 2006.  At the same time, Massachusetts currently has the highest rate of insured residents in the nation, 98.1%.

  • Connecticut and Maine also have significant spending, and Maine's expenditures were some of the fastest-growing in the past two decades. Experts generally attribute the region's higher spending to its higher cost of living, greater proportion of elderly residents and number of high-profile hospitals.

  • Expansive, sparsely populated states such as Alaska and North Dakota also have high spending. Their representatives often attribute this to care delivery being more expensive under their conditions.

State Spending on Health Care Costs, Obamacare


Spending on Health Care, By Category

In addition to varying by state, health care spending also varies by type of medical expense. For example:

  • Big-spending states such as Washington DC, Massachusetts and Alaska had some of the highest per-person spending on hospital care and doctors' services, which make up the bulk of medical costs. 

  • Utah had the lowest spending, averaging $5,031 per person. Most experts attribute this to the state's relatively young and healthy population. Similarly, Utah has particularly low spending on hospital care and doctors' services. 

Health Care Costs by State

Click here to read the full Wall Street Journal Report.

Where does your state fall?

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