Healthcare prices all over the map for employees insured through their jobs

Healthcare prices for patients with employer-sponsored insurance coverage vary widely across and within U.S. metro areas, according to an analysis from the Health Care Cost Institute, an independent, nonprofit research panel  partially funded by four insurers.

The analysis examined nearly 2 billion commercial insurance claims from 2012 to 2016. It compared average prices for the same services in 112 metro areas to establish benchmark prices as of 2016.

Four findings:

1. Prices in 2016 were below the national average in 86 of the 112 metro areas studied. But prices were significantly higher than the national average in some metro areas, including San Francisco (49 percent above the national average). 

2. Prices were lowest in Baltimore in 2016 (33 percent below the national average) and highest in Anchorage, Alaska.

3. The institute  attributed price variation to market-level differences in prices and growth of inpatient, outpatient and professional services.

4. The institute also found that metro areas with high price levels in 2016 did not always see substantial price growth over time. As an example, it cited Tampa, Fla., where prices grew 21 percent between 2012 and 2016. The same metro area saw prices 3 percent below the national average in 2016. New York City saw similar price growth over the five years studied (22 percent), but prices there exceeded the national average by 10 percent in 2016.

Access the full analysis and accompanying data tools here.


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