You may have noticed times when you’ve paid $175 for a teeth cleaning while your cousin five states away paid only $56. It’s no secret that health care costs vary by state—and often by quite a lot. (You’ll be shocked by the secrets health insurance companies are keeping from you.)
A new study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary, released by the organization Health Affairs, explores the startling differences in states’ per capita spending on health care, from mammograms and colonoscopies to knee replacements and open heart surgeries. Their handy infographic illustrates the great range of personal health care spending across the United States based on the most recent data available.
As you can see on the infographic, certain regions tend to have higher fees—and if you live there, you already know this. Regions with spending above the national average, which is $8,045 per person, per year, are New England, the Mideast, the Great Lakes, and the Plains. The most expensive healthcare is in Alaska—$11,064, and the least expensive is in Utah—$5,982, a nearly twofold difference. Compared to the national average, per capita spending in Alaska was 38 percent higher vs. 26 percent lower in Utah. Those states come out at the top and bottom of the list, respectively.
There is a method to the madness, according to CMS: States with higher levels of health spending tend to have higher levels of personal income per capita, greater percentages of people enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid, and more health care capacity. On the other hand, states with relatively higher rates of people who are uninsured tend to have relatively lower levels of health spending per capita.