Healthcare costs vary among states due to use patterns, prices: 4 things to know

Local healthcare use patterns and pricing are the main drivers of differing healthcare costs across five states, according to report from the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement.

NRHI's second annual report, Healthcare Affordability: Untangling Cost Drivers, examines the total cost of healthcare for individuals with private insurance across five states: Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Minnesota and Maryland. The report uses the average cost of healthcare for comparable populations in 2015 as a relative benchmark.

Here are four things to know from the report.

1. The use of outpatient resources was a main driver of Colorado's total healthcare costs in 2015. Colorado's outpatient resource use was 25 percent more than the benchmark. The state also holds the the highest rate of prescription drug use, which was 23 percent above the benchmark.

2. Two other states — Minnesota and Utah — saw higher resource use than the benchmark, but faced different total healthcare costs when considering price. In Minnesota, healthcare use and price were 10 percent more than the average, resulting in Minnesota's overall healthcare costs rising seven percent higher than the benchmark in 2015. In Utah, while inpatient resource use was 16 percent higher than the average, the state's 14 percent lower prices pulled its total cost below the average by 4 percent in 2015.

3. Lower resource use drove down Oregon's total cost, even as prices were higher than the average, according to the report. The total cost of healthcare in Maryland was 16 percent below the average in 2015, due to lower healthcare use and prices that were 13 percent lower than the benchmark.

4. "Each state's numbers tell a story, giving stakeholders insight into the role that local policies, demographics and market factors play in driving healthcare costs," the report states. "This knowledge can enable them to take steps to address their specific issues."

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