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Healthcare Spending Greater in Northeast States

According to a study in the Health Affairs journal, Americans in the Northeast spend more on healthcare per capita than those in other areas.  Kentucky spends about $5,472 per person on healthcare, which is about 4% higher than the national average. 


The study found that residents in 10 states, including New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont, spend about $6,345 on healthcare.  This is almost 20% more than the national average of $5,283.  District of Columbia residents spent the most in 2004, with a per capita spending of $8,295. 


There is some indication that the reason for the northeast having the greatest amount spent on health care is that the northeast is densely populated with physicians.  Masschussetts, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Pennsylvania all ranked among the highest number of physicians per capita.  Additionally, only a very small portion of the northeast’s population is uninsured.  Better employer healthcare coverage means more access to healthcare itself.


On the other end of the spectrum were Utah, Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, and Nevada, which spent an average of $4,244 per person on health care – nearly 20% lower than the national average.  Utah residents spent the least on health care, with a total spending of only $3,972 per person. 


The study focused on health care spending from health insurance, personal expenditures, Medicare, Medicaid and other sources. 


Another finding of the study is that per capita spending on prescription drugs has grew faster between 1998-2004 than it did from 1991-1998.  Though the study cites expanded prescription drug coverage, lower copayments, the development of new drugs, and expanded Medicaid and state-sponsored drug coverage, this finding is also consistent with the growing worry about overmedication and prescription drug addiction.


The latest development on the prescription drug addiction front is the lawsuit filed by Kentucky officials against Perdue, the manufacturer of Oxycontin.  Oxycontin is a strong narcotic pain reliever, similar to morphine.  It has been used to treat moderate to severe pain.  Kentucky officials are alleging that Perdue misrepresented the drug’s addictive nature. 

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