The lack of an established pattern in the price of health care has driven the cost of medical procedures off balance, as a knee replacement may cost $29,000 in Kansas and $40,000 in Colorado, while the nationwide average stands at $33,098.
The results come from a study developed by the Health Care Cost Institute, which estimated the cost of common medical procedures and established an average for each state of the U.S.
Paying more for the same
The study takes into account the costs covered by private health insurance, as 60 percent of Americans carry private health insurance, which in most cases is provided by their employer or by the government.
Medical services appear to be three and up to eight times as expensive, depending on the state where the procedure is developed. One of the most expensive states is Alaska, where the prices have a ratio of 2.6 times the nationwide average, as Florida has a reduced ratio of 79.
Experts argue that most of the price issues come from the lack of specialists within certain areas of medicine. An example was set by Health Care Cost Institute chairman David Newman, where there is a significant lack of child psychologists in the country. A professional of this kind is able to charge a higher price due to the lack of competition, depending on the state where the practice is performed.
Minor procedures were also taken into account. An ultrasound costs $201 in Arizona while in Alaska it costs $895. It is estimated that Americans spend around $9,500 a year on medical expenses, an amount that easily surpasses the yearly cost of health care per citizen of other developed countries.
The least expensive states in overall health care turned out to be Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and Maryland. The most expensive were Alaska, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.
According to Yale health policy and economics professor Zack Cooper, the current medical market is failing. The data shows that states spending less of their budget in public health insurance plans, such as Medicare, tend to charge a higher price when it comes to private medical insurance.
Hospitals and specialists are then able to establish monopolies and dominate the market, which allows them to set prices at sky-high levels due to a lack of severe regulations from either the federal government or the state itself.
One of the suggested measures to fight this endeavor is to encourage people to travel to get cheaper medical services, as this will set an important deal of market pressure on hospitals and specialists throughout the country.
Source: Health Care Cost Institute