SNAPSHOT USA: Health Care Varies State to State
"[G]eographic residence can determine one's health," an American Association of Retired Persons report finds. The annual AARP review of the health care systems revealed wide disparities in health care among the 50 states. The national average for low- income people under age 65 who have Medicaid was 46%. In Nevada and South Dakota, fewer than 30% of those eligible were enrolled, compared to about 60% in Minnesota and the District of Columbia. In addition, data for 1997 showed that the national average Medicare payment per beneficiary was $5,416. But in states such as Louisiana, Massachusetts, Texas and California, those payments were more than $6,000 -- while Montana, Vermont, South Dakota and North Dakota spent much less than $4,000 per beneficiary. AARP Legislation and Public Policy Director John Rother said, "If anyone thought that we had a unitarian health care system in the U.S., these data put that thought to rest" (Rovner/Wegner, CongressDaily, 2/15).
The report also found that:
- Mississippi had the highest heart disease rate and Minnesota had the lowest.
- Washington, D.C. had the highest cancer rate and Utah had the lowest.
- Alaska had the highest nursing home costs, Oklahoma ranked among the lowest