If you’re going to go without health insurance coverage, the Phoenix metro area is not a bad place to be, relatively speaking. According to the 2008 Milliman Medical Index, Phoenix was last in an analysis of health care costs in 14 major U.S. metro areas. Compared to a nationwide average of $15,609 in medical costs for a typical family of four, Phoenix came in at $13,968 – 88% of the average. Miami topped the list at $18,780.
Costs varied from high to low by more than 35 percent. Variations result from a complex array of regional factors, “including medical service treatment patterns, utilization of health care services, and costs per service.” We can’t put our finger on any one reason why Phoenix has less expensive medical costs than other areas of the country, but some of the factors might include:
- Less vertical integration and consolidation of services in the market than, say, eastern regions of the country.
- Higher relative population growth. The denominator has grown faster than the numerator.
- Higher influx of young people, immigrants, the uninsured.
- Fewer staffed hospital beds, physicians, inpatient admissions and office visits. More people reporting unmet medical needs or delaying care.
- Relative lower pricing structure in southwest-mountain states generally.