No matter where you live in the U.S., the cost of health care can be a major burden — but that burden can vary greatly depending on your home state.
An analysis from discount prescription provider NiceRx highlights the fragmented nature of our nation’s health care system, with per-capita spending on health care ranging more than $5,000 between states.
Notably, Alaska ranks the highest for personal medical spending at $11,064 per person. NiceRx notes that the state’s isolation from the rest of the country is partially to blame, as is a lack of competition among its health care providers.
By contrast, residents of Utah have the lowest health care expenses in the nation. Per capita health care spending in the Beehive State is $5,982.
Health care spending figures in the analysis are based on recently released government data for the year 2020 and include costs related to private and public health insurance, hospital care, doctor visits, prescription drugs and more. Total costs are then divided by the state’s population.
A litany of factors could influence a state’s health care spending, including its health care laws, the typical age of a state’s residents and the competition of its health care system.
Where health care costs are highest
Here’s a look at the states with the highest health care spending:
- Alaska: $11,064 per person
- Massachusetts: $10,559 per person
- Delaware: $10,254 per person
- Vermont: $10,190 per person
- Connecticut: $9,859 per person
- North Dakota: $9,851 per person
- New York: $9,778 per person
- New Hampshire: $9,589 per person
- Rhode Island: $9,551 per person
- Maine: $9,551 per person
States with the lowest health care costs per person
And here are the states that spend the least on health care:
- Utah: $5,982 per person
- Arizona: $6,452 per person
- Georgia: $6,587 per person
- Nevada: $6,714 per person
- Colorado: $6,804 per person
- Idaho: $6,927 per person
- Texas: $6,998 per person
- New Mexico: $7,214 per person
- North Carolina: $7,264 per person
- Alabama: $7,281 per person
As these figures are based on aggregate health care costs, they don’t necessarily reflect what the typical resident with health insurance is paying out-of-pocket for their medical care.
A separate study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that, during the same year, the U.S. ranked second among developed countries for average out-of-pocket health costs, at $1,172 per person. Switzerland ranked first, with residents spending $1,577 out-of-pocket for their health care.
These numbers also have a caveat: They do not include the cost of health insurance in America itself. For reference, the total annual cost a typical health plan in the U.S. is now nearly $8,000 for singles and more than $22,000 for families. Most of these costs are paid by employers, but singles pay more than $1,300 on average out of their paychecks for health insurance and workers with family plans cough up about $6,100 per year.
According to government data, out-of-pocket spending for Americans exceeded $433 billion in 2021.