Healthcare Economy

This Is the State That Spends the Least on Health Care

Health care spending has become an ever-larger issue in America. In part that is because the population has aged quickly in the past few decades. Much of health care expenditures are for people in the final months of their 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.

Though expensive, health care costs are covered largely by the government. In 2019, the federal government paid for 29.0% of all health-related spending in the United States. 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 how much each state spends 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.

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.

The state that spends the least on the health of its residents 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)

Click here to see how much your state spends on your health.