- What people pay for medical services varies widely depending on where they live, according to a report by the Health Care Cost Institute.
- The report compared average state prices for 242 common medical procedures to the national average price for those procedures.
- Overall, prices were highest in Minnesota and Wisconsin and lowest in Florida and Maryland.
The report, published online this week in Health Affairs, analyzes claims and payment data from three of the country’s biggest carriers to see how prices for procedures vary state to state and city to city. The procedures ranged from visits to a primary care doctor, to a foot x-ray, cataract surgery, and coronary angioplasty.
Prices showed no rhyme or reason. For common medical services, a patient in Arizona below the national average, while prices in neighboring New Mexico were above the national average.
Prices also varied within states. For the average cost for knee replacements, California had the largest in-state difference, while Virginia had the smallest. In Ohio, the average price in Cleveland was nearly three times that in Canton, despite their being only 60 miles apart.
“There doesn’t seem to be a systematic pattern with respect to what’s high and what’s low,” David Newman, HCCI’s executive director, told NPR.
The results — using data from Aetna, Humana, and United Healthcare — also show wide variations in private insurance payments and how that affected prices. Patients in states with low Medicare spending generally faced higher prices under private insurance policies.