June 22, 2018
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Massachusetts top-spending state for health care

By Alex Wayne, Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — Massachusetts, where a higher percentage of the population has health insurance than anywhere else in the United States, spent more per person than any state on medical care, a new study finds.

Massachusetts spent about $9,278 per resident on health care in 2009, according to a study in the journal Medicare and Medicaid Research Review, published by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Health-care expenditures were 85 percent higher in Massachusetts than Utah, which spent the least per person at $5,013.

States with higher spending, like Massachusetts, tended to have higher incomes and a higher percentage of people covered by insurance, according to the researchers from the CMS actuary’s office who wrote the study using government data. States with lower spending had lower incomes and higher rates of uninsurance. The national average was $6,815 per person for medical care in 2009.

“Health reform in Massachusetts led to an increased share of spending on physician and clinical services,” the researchers wrote.

Massachusetts and Utah are the only two states so far with functioning health insurance exchanges, government-run marketplaces where people without coverage can shop for plans. Massachusetts passed a law in 2006 requiring most residents to carry insurance; Utah has no such requirement.

The federal health-care law enacted in 2010 will require most Americans to obtain insurance and will expand Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor. In 2014, the law will provide subsidized private coverage in exchanges for people with low incomes.

States such as Utah and Texas with relatively low incomes and high rates of uninsurance “would be most likely to have the greatest potential number of people eligible for the Medicaid expansion or exchange coverage,” the study said.

In 2009, 5 percent of those in Massachusetts were without health insurance, compared with 14 percent in Utah and 26 percent in Texas, the highest rate of uninsured in the country, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research group in Menlo Park, California.

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