In 2014, the median household income in the US was just over $53,000. In Massachusetts it was $63,000, and in Boston almost $76,000. That means Bostonians earned 41% more and Massachusetts residents 18% more than the national average. Salaries are higher here because it costs more to live here – ask anyone buying a house, or groceries, or gasoline. It costs 40% more than the national average to live in Boston. So what are the comparable numbers for health insurance costs? Are they 40% higher than the national average too?
The answer is no. Health care in Massachusetts consumes less of our household income than in most states:
- Employee health care costs – for premiums and deductibles – are 7.3% of median household income in Massachusetts. Not counting the District of Columbia, that’s the lowest of all states.
- Total premiums – including the employer and employee shares – are the fifth lowest relative to income. Only Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and North Dakota are lower.
- And high out-of-pocket medical spending (not including premiums), defined as the percent of the population spending more than 10% of income, is the third lowest at 11%. Only Maryland and the District of Columbia are lower.
Controlling health care costs is one of our society’s greatest challenges. Over the past few years, the Commonwealth has made unprecedented progress slowing health care cost growth. We need to keep at it. But we also need to remember that, when you consider what it costs to live in Massachusetts, our high quality hospitals and clinicians, and our commitment to access for all, the Commonwealth’s health care system is the envy of every other state in the nation.
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