America has the least affordable healthcare of any country tracked by the OECD. In 2019, the figure was $10,948 per capita per year. By means of comparison, the number is $3,600 in Spain and $2,903 in Israel. A recent study from Harvard described the reasons–“administrative expenses, corporate greed and price gouging, and higher utilization of costly medical technology.”
Recently, a study that covers healthcare costs by state was released–“The Healthcare Affordability State Policy Scorecard, which Altarum’s Healthcare Value Hub.”
Among the issues the researchers point out is that healthcare affordability is the top issue, regardless of political affiliation, that people expect governments to improve. The data are meant to:
…a scorecard that used a unique database to measure state progress on policies to ensure that all residents have affordable coverage that features consumer-friendly cost-sharing and whose premiums reflect the efficient delivery of healthcare and fair healthcare pricing.
Each of the 50 states received a rank. These were based on four factors–the curbing of excess prices, the reduction of “low value” care, extending insurance coverages to the largest number of people possible, and making out-of-pocket payments affordable.
The scorecard is retrospective and only scored states on policies implemented as of Dec. 31, 2020. Each state received a policy score and an outcome score, and the two were combined for the overall ranking. Hawaii, New Jersey and South Carolina did not receive an overall ranking because of inadequate data.
The highest possible score was 80.
Massachusetts ranked first with a score of 65.3. Texas was in last place with a score of 17.9.
Massachusetts was followed by Rhode Island at 58.1, Vermont at 57.1, Oregon at 55.6, Colorado at 55.2, Maryland at 55.1, and Washington at 54.1.
One of the ways in which the report and research behind it are lacking is any recommendations of how the practices of the best scoring states could be implemented nationally. Put another way, is there a path to America moving from its place as the nation with the most expensive healthcare?