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The most expensive states in America to buy health care

Americans and public and private health insurers spent $1.9 trillion in 2004 for hospital care, physician services, and prescription drugs, according to a report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

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State
Spending per person (1998)
As percent of U.S. per capita
United States
$3,759
100 percent
Alabama
$3,630
97 percent
Alaska
$3,442
92 percent
Arizona
$3,100
82 percent
Arkansas
$3,540
94 percent
California
$3,429
91 percent
Colorado
$3,331
89 percent
Connecticut
$4,656
124 percent
Delaware
$4,258
113 percent
Florida
$4,046
108 percent
Georgia
$3,505
93 percent
Hawaii
$3,770
100 percent
Idaho
$3,035
81 percent
Illinois
$3,801
101 percent
Indiana
$3,566
95 percent
Iowa
$3,765
100 percent
Kansas
$3,707
99 percent
Kentucky
$3,711
99 percent
Louisiana
$3,742
100 percent
Maine
$4,025
107 percent
Maryland
$3,848
102 percent
Massachusetts
$4,810
128 percent
Michigan
$3,676
98 percent
Minnesota
$3,986
106 percent
Mississippi
$3,474
92 percent
Missouri
$3,754
100 percent
Montana
$3,314
88 percent
Nebraska
$3,627
97 percent
Nevada
$3,147
84 percent
New Hampshire
$3,840
102 percent
New Jersey
$4,197
112 percent
New Mexico
$3,209
85 percent
New York
$4,708
125 percent
North Carolina
$3,535
94 percent
North Dakota
$3,881
103 percent
Ohio
$3,747
100 percent
Oklahoma
$3,397
90 percent
Oregon
$3,334
89 percent
Pennsylvania
$4,168
111 percent
Rhode Island
$4,497
120 percent
South Carolina
$3,529
94 percent
South Dakota
$3,650
97 percent
Tennessee
$3,808
101 percent
Texas
$3,397
90 percent
Utah
$2,731
73 percent
Vermont
$3,654
97 percent
Virginia
$3,284
87 percent
Washington
$3,382
90 percent
Washington, D.C.
$5,656
177 percent
West Virginia
$4,044
108 percent
Wisconsin
$3,845
102 percent
Wyoming
$3,381
90 percent

According to "Heath Care Spending Growth Rate Continues to Decline in 2004," the national average for health care spending per person was $6,280 in 2004, compared to $3,759 per person in 1998. And the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) project health care spending in the U.S. to grow 7.4 percent in 2005 and 7.3 percent in 2006, eventually surpassing the $2-trillion mark.

Another report, "CMS Reports 1998 Health Care Spending in the States" shows per-person spending for health care can vary by nearly $2,000 from state to state with a high of $4,810 per resident in Massachusetts to a low of $2,731 in Utah. Residents who pay the most live in the nation's capital: Residents of Washington, D.C., spend $5,656 per capita.

"Research has suggested many reasons for differences in health care spending among states," according to CMS, "including socioeconomic and demographic factors, incidence of illness, access to and type of insurance coverage, availability of resources (hospital beds and physicians), and diversity in practice patterns."

Per-person spending for health care tends to be higher in the Northeast and lower in the western states. Four states had average health spending of 15 percent or more above the U.S. average in 1998: Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Five states had average spending of at least 15 percent below the national average: Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico.

The 10 most expensive states for health care spending are:
      1. Massachusetts
      2. New York
      3. Connecticut
      4. Rhode Island
      5. Delaware
      6. New Jersey
      7. Pennsylvania
      8. Florida
      9. West Virginia
      10. Maine

According to CMS, between 1991 and 1998, average annual growth in per-person health care spending ranged from 3.5 percent in California to 7.3 percent in Maine. The far West showed the slowest regional per-person growth between 1991 and 1998 at 3.8 percent, while the Plains region showed the fastest average annual growth at 5.9 percent.

The states with the lowest health spending growth over this same span are Arizona (3.7 percent), California (3.5 percent), Colorado (4.3 percent), Florida (4.5 percent), Nevada (4 percent), and Washington (4.1 percent).

Fastest growth was in Maine (7.3 percent), Mississippi (6.8 percent), West Virginia (6.7 percent), North Carolina (6.5 percent), and South Carolina (6.5 percent).

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