Healthcare Business

This State Spends the Least on Your Health

As the number of baby boomers grows, so does the worry that health care costs will rocket higher in the United States. The oldest of the boomers are nearly 75 and the youngest are 57. The current life expectancy at birth in the United States is about 78. It is well known that medical costs are highest in the final months of many people’s lives. Additionally, obesity and diabetes, two conditions that often can be avoided by a change in behavior, increasingly have driven up costs. The United States spends more on health care per person than any country. However, by almost every measure, the results are mediocre.

Health care costs in the United States, measured annually, are the highest among OECD nations. Health System Tracker reports:

Wealthy countries, including the U.S., tend to spend more per person on health care and related expenses than lower-income countries. However, even as a high-income country, the U.S. spends more per person on health than comparable countries. Health spending per person in the U.S. was $10,966 in 2019, which was 42% higher than Switzerland, the country with the next highest per capita health spending.

The average across the nations measured was $5,697.Though expensive, the health care cost is to a large extent covered by the government.

In 2019, 29.0% of all health-related spending in the U.S. was paid for by the federal government. Slightly less — 28.4% — came from households. State and local governments covered 16.1% of the total cost.

In 2018, the latest year for which state and local data is available, state governments spent $885 billion on health care, or $2,696 per person. Due to different budget priorities and needs, local government health care spending varies considerably by state.

To determine the state that spends the least on your health, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the detailed health care expenditures by state governments provided by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 Annual Survey of State and Local Finances. Per-capita health care spending ranges from less than $1,100 to more than $3,600.

In every state, the largest portion of overall health care spending goes towards public welfare programs. These include Medicare and Medicaid, two government-funded health insurance programs that offer coverage to the elderly, the disabled, and people with low incomes.

State spending on health in 2018 consists of three components: each state’s public health expenditure, hospital expenditure, and welfare payments made directly to private vendors for medical assistance and hospital and health care.

State public health expenditure includes all public health activities except provision of hospital care. Hospital expenditure includes the construction and operation of hospitals by each state government and payments to privately operated hospitals.

Per capita spending was calculated using the total of each state’s expenditure in these areas and 2019 annual estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey (ACS). The shares of the population 65 and older, those living with a disability, and those with health insurance also came from the ACS and are for 2019

The state that spends the least on your health is South Dakota. Here are the details:

> State spending on health in 2018: $1,046 per capita
> Health spending as share of all state spending in 2018: 17.7% (third lowest)
> Total state health budget: $925.7 million
> Population 65 and older: 17.4% (21st highest)
> Population with a disability: 12.6% (21st lowest)
> Adults without health insurance: 10.2% (13th highest)

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