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More access to health care leads to more spending for it


But costs outpace national averages in some states with fewer physicians.

More access to primary care generally leads to more spending on health care across the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The national average for health care expenses per person is $10,477 a year, while the statewide average for health care providers is 45.3 per 10,000 people. The figures were published by insurance company Assurance, which compiled data from KFF and County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR), a program that tracks health-influencing factors at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

“State by state, access to healthcare professionals closely aligns with healthcare expenditure,” said the study, “Healthcare Spending vs. Access in the U.S.” “For the most part, residents of states that spend more money on healthcare tend to have better access to care providers, while states with relatively low healthcare spending have fewer healthcare providers per 10,000 people.”

Those with the most per capita health care expenditures and providers per 10,000 people:

  • Washington, D.C. – $14,381; 85.2
  • Alaska – $13,642; 81.9
  • Massachusetts – $13,319; 89

States with the lowest amount of health care spending and fewest providers were:

  • Alabama – $9,280; 22.8
  • Georgia – $8,758; 27.3
  • Texas – $8,406; 25.1

‘Gaps’ in spending and access

There are states with gaps between health care spending and access, according to Assurance. The national average for per person health care spending is $10,477.08, while health care providers have a national average of 45.3 per 10,000 residents.

For example, among states with lower costs and greater access, Colorado spends $8,583, or 18% less on health care per capita, but has 56.6 providers per 10,000 people, or 25% more, compared to national averages. Utah spends $7,522, or 28%, less and has 47.5 providers or 5% more, while Washington spends $9,265, or 12% less, and has 60.1 providers, or 32% more per capita, compared to national averages. All three states also had more than the national average of 30.5 mental health professionals per 10,000 residents.

There are states with higher expenditures and less access. Delaware spends $12,889 per person per year, or 23%, more on health care, with 40.9, or 10% fewer, providers.

South Dakota spends $12,495, or 19% more, on per capita health care, with 34.1 providers, or 25% fewer than the national average. West Virginia spends $12,769, or 22% more, on health care, but has 28.6 providers, or 37% fewer. All three have fewer mental health professionals than the national average, although Delaware is closest at 29.1 per 10,000 residents.

“As the cost of living continues to rise in all corners of the country, healthcare is almost guaranteed to follow suit,” the study said. “Some Americans continue to face a perpetual increase in the prices of their day-to-day medical must-haves, while others are struggling to find a primary care provider in the first place. In many cases, healthcare is far from what it should be.”

The data includes hospital spending tracked by KFF, while the CHR figures include primary care physicians, dentists, and mental health professionals.

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