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Mass. Spends Most On Health Care

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WASHINGTON – Massachusetts, where a higher percentage of the population has health insurance than anywhere else in the United States, spent more per person than any state on medical care, a new study finds.

New Mexico, which is among the least-insured states in the nation, ranked 31st among the states and the District of Columbia in per capita health care spending.

New Mexicans spent $6,651 per person, 2.9 percent less than the national average of $6,851.

The latest federal government data show that 24.7 percent of New Mexicans have no health care coverage, the second-highest rate in the nation, behind Texas.

Massachusetts spent about $9,278 per resident on health care in 2009, according to a study in the journal Medicare and Medicaid Research Review, published by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Health care expenditures were 85 percent higher in Massachusetts than Utah, which spent the least per person, at $5,013.

States with higher spending, like Massachusetts, tended to have higher incomes and a higher percentage of people covered by insurance, according to the researchers from the CMS actuary’s office who wrote the study using government data. States with lower spending had lower incomes and higher rates of uninsurance.

“Health reform in Massachusetts led to an increased share of spending on physician and clinical services,” the researchers wrote.

Massachusetts and Utah are the only two states so far with functioning health insurance exchanges, government-run marketplaces where people without coverage can shop for plans. Massachusetts passed a law in 2006 requiring most residents to carry insurance; Utah has no such requirement.

The federal health-care law enacted in 2010 will require most Americans to obtain insurance and will expand Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor. In 2014, the law will provide subsidized private coverage in exchanges for people with low incomes.

States such as Utah and Texas with relatively low incomes and high rates of uninsurance “would be most likely to have the greatest potential number of people eligible for the Medicaid expansion or exchange coverage,” the study said.

In 2009, 5 percent of those in Massachusetts were without health insurance, compared with 14 percent in Utah and 26 percent in Texas, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research group in Menlo Park, California.

Journal staff contributed to this report
— This article appeared on page A6 of the Albuquerque Journal

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