Special Report

What Your State Spends on Your Health

The United States is one of only a handful of wealthy, developed nations that does not have universal health care. Still, the United States tops the list of countries that spend the most on public health.

The high health care spending in the United States is due to programs like Medicare and Medicaid, efforts to maintain environmental standards that help keep the air and water clean, state-run hospitals and medical schools, and other smaller community wellness initiatives. All told, state governments spent $630.9 billion on health care in 2016, or $1,957 per person. 

Due to different budget priorities and needs, health care spending varies considerably by state. 

Using the 2016 Annual Survey of State and Local Finances from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed total health care spending per capita to determine what your state spends on your health. Per-capita health care spending ranges from less than $1,500 in some states to more than $3,000 in others.

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 other qualifying Americans. Partially because public welfare programs account for such a large share of health care spending — over 80% in half of all states — disabled and retirement-age residents tend to account for a larger than average share of the population in the states spending the most on health care. 

On a global scale, greater health care spending appears to drive up overall life expectancy. In the United States, however, the relationship between spending and health outcomes appears to be more complicated, as the states spending the most on health care do not necessarily have the highest average life expectancy. These are the states where people live the longest.

Click here to see what your state spends on your health
Click here to read our methodology

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