Incomes, Consumer Prices, Medicaid Expansion Explain Health Spending Variation Across States

Health care spending per person varied significantly across the nation in 2019, and differences between states grew across time, according to a recent Health Affairs study. State-level health care spending per person ranged from $7,250 in Utah to $14,500 in Alaska in 2019, while annualized growth rates per person ranged from 1.0% in Washington, D.C., to 4.2% in South Dakota from 2013 to 2019.

In 2019, Medicare and Medicaid spending combined accounted for more than one third of total health expenditures in most states, ranging from 27% in Alaska to 48% in Arkansas. The study shows that out-of-pocket spending varied more than overall spending. For example, while South Dakota’s overall health care spending is 50% higher than Arizona, the average South Dakotan spent nearly three times as much out-of-pocket per year ($4,600) compared to the average Arizonan ($1,700).

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Jinghong Chen

Jinghong Chen Reporter

Jinghong produces infographics and data stories on health insurance and specialty pharmacy for AIS Health. She graduated from Missouri School of Journalism with a focus on data journalism and international reporting. Before joining AIS in 2018, she worked at WBEZ, Al Jazeera English and The New York Times Chinese.

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