CMS report: Northeasterners top U.S. healthcare spending

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New England and Mideast residents spend much more on healthcare than those living in other regions, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and published today in the journal Health Affairs.

The study compared per capita spending of each state between the years of 1998 and 2004.

In 2004, nine of the 10 states with the highest per capita personal healthcare spending were Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Alaska was the only state among the ten outside of those regions. These states consumed an average of $6,345 per person in 2004, nearly 20 percent higher than the U.S. average of $5,283.

Economics and demographics will drastically influence the figures. For example, within the 10 states, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Delaware ranked among the highest in per capita personal income and the uninsured share of the population was among the lowest for some of the top 10.

In contrast, Florida has the highest percentage of the population age 65 and older, and its Medicare per enrollee spending was among the highest in the nation, $8,462, in 2004. Also, states with lowest levels of healthcare spending, like Utah, have younger populations and more individuals living in rural environments.

Another persuasive influence is spending on Medicaid. In New York, the cost per recipient totaled $10,173 in 2004, among the highest in the country. 

The difference between the highest-and lowest-spending regions on a per capita basis widened from 1991 to 1998, the last time the study was conducted, and then narrowed from 1998 to 2004.