Healthcare spending varies dramatically by state, age

Healthcare spending by states varies dramatically, according to a new report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Overall, healthcare spending per capita in the United States averaged $6,815 in 2009. Massachusetts, the only state with a coverage mandate similar to that of the Affordable Care Act, had the highest per capita spending at 136 percent above the national average, or nearly $9,300 per capita. Utah has the lowest, at 74 percent of the national average.

"We're seeing a broadening of the gap" between higher- and lower-spending states, said Gigi Cuckler, a CMS economist and lead author of the study covering healthcare spending between 1991 and 2009, reports Kaiser Health News. The study was published in the Medicare and Medicaid Research Review, a CMS journal.

Those states with higher levels of healthcare spending tended to have older populations with higher incomes, or significantly higher levels of Medicaid spending. And states hit disproportionately by the recent steep recession with higher unemployment rates also had the most dramatic slowdown of spending.

States with lower-than-average spending levels tended to have younger and healthier populations.

To learn more:
- check out the CMS report (.pdf)
- read the Kaiser Health News article