While healthcare use falls in Colorado, prices push costs higher, report says

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Colorado could save $54 million in healthcare costs each year if it pulled prices closer to the statewide median, according to an analysis from the Center for Improving Value in Health Care.

The analysis, part of a new multistate benchmark report from the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement, found Colorado's total healthcare costs for commercially insured individuals increased two percentage points between 2015 and 2016. While the state's average healthcare use across all service categories fell slightly relative to a six-region benchmark during this time, its prices were higher than average.

Of the six regions included in the benchmark — Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, St. Louis and Utah — Oregon was the only other state with higher-than-average prices across all specialties, save for pharmacy prices, which were 10 percent below the multiregion average.

Healthcare costs varied between the states based on use and pricing. For example, Colorado's total healthcare cost per person was 19 percent higher than the benchmark, driven by higher use and prices compared to the other regions.

Overall, the Center for Improving Value in Health Care projects $141 million in savings could be realized across the regions if total costs were lowered to the multiregion average.

For the full report, click here.

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