Northeast on Top for Health Care Spending

More people are visiting the doctor in the Northeast than any other region in the United States.

Individual health care spending, including insurance, personal expenses, Medicare, Medicaid and other sources, are the highest in the country, according to figures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Annual health care spending per person totaled $6,409 in New England and $6,151 in the rest of the Northeast, compared to a national average of $5,283 while the highest per capita spending is in the District of Columbia, $8,295, followed by Massachusetts, $6,683; Maine, $6,540; and New York at $6,535.

Health care spending is at a high in this region, due to high personal income, a high concentration of physicians and the lowest rates of uninsured in these states.

States like Massachusetts, New York and Maine also have more generous Medicaid. However, the figures show that the number of people enrolled in Medicaid doesn't affect per capita spending levels. New York and New Mexico have larger populations that receive Medicaid, but New York was one of the highest Medicaid spenders while New Mexico was among the lowest.

The Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions had lower health care spending, because these states may have a smaller number of enrollees in Medicare and Medicaid spending and less access to physicians and hospitals in more rural areas.

The only state outside of the Northeast where per capita health spending topped $6,000 was Alaska at $6,450. The lowest per person health care spending was $3,972 in Utah. Nationally, per capita health spending increased on average 6.3 percent per year from 1998 to 2004, the report said.