The 10 most expensive cities for healthcare

Sacramento, California is the most expensive city for healthcare in the United States, according to a new analysis from Forbes.

Forbes based its analysis of the 10 most expensive cities in the nation on a map released last month by Castlight Health that showed wide disparities in in-network charges for lipid panels, preventive primary care visits, head/brain CT scans and lower back MRIs. 

  1. Sacramento, the costliest city for CT scans ($1,404) and MRIs ($2,635) and second most expensive for preventive primary care ($219).

  2. San Francisco, where preventive care costs an average of $251.

  3. Dallas, the fourth-most expensive city for CT scan, where lipid panels, at $47, are almost double that of either Sacramento or San Francisco.

  4. St. Louis, which is the eighth most expensive city for MRIs and 10th for CT scans, but one of the cheapest for lipid panels.

  5. Kansas City, Missouri, the third most expensive city for both MRIs and CT scans.

  6. Charlotte, North Carolina, which is seventh for MRIs at $1,813 but barely places for CT scans ($619).

  7. Denver, in sixth place for both CT scans and MRIs.

  8. Miami, the fourth most expensive for MRIs

  9. Boston, the 10th most expensive city for MRIs ($1,737).

  10. Portland, Oregon, which has some of the widest variations between procedure costs, coming in third for preventive primary care at $216, but only in 14th place for MRIs and 17th for CT scans.

These numbers come on the heels of a June report from the Commonwealth Fund, which found that, for the fifth time, the United States' healthcare system came in last among 11 industrialized Western nations in care quality, but first in per capita spending.

These variations are largely unique to the United States, according to Forbes, because the government negotiates standard prices for healthcare services in other countries. Increased price transparency could potentially help the problem, Castlight Health CEO Giovanni Colella told the Wall Street Journal in June. "By exposing such pricing data to consumers," he said, "it can help them make more informed choices that could save money for employers and employees."

To learn more:
- read the rankings
- here's the WSJ article