In this space, we often discuss the cost of health care in Massachusetts relative to the state’s cost of living. When you do that, Massachusetts’s health care costs compare favorably to the rest of the country—which has been in the bottom 10% as of late. Lots of other expenses are routinely reported and compared relative to cost of living. Tax rates are a percentage of income, judges’ salaries are indexed by geographic area—a proxy for cost of living—and car insurance premiums are adjusted for cost of living when compared to other states.
Massachusetts is an expensive place to live. The cost of living in Boston is 46% higher than the national average. Housing plays a big part in that (it is a stunning 95% above the national average). Utilities are also a heavy burden, coming in at 54% higher than the rest of the nation. Taking in your favorite baseball team will also cost you. A family of four pays $157 for tickets, food, and parking to go to a Red Sox game, which is the highest cost in the country according to a study done by GoBankingRates.
But for some reason in our ongoing debates about health care costs, they are rarely adjusted for cost of living. They should be.
When they are, the stories have to be rewritten, from “Massachusetts health care costs are the highest in the nation” to “Massachusetts consumers have the lowest out of pocket costs for healthcare of any state,” or “Massachusetts commercial insurance payments to hospitals are in the bottom 20% of the country.”
There is more work to do on health care costs, and always will be, as long as humans are mortal and there are unmet needs. We’re committed to doing our part. Getting the facts right is a good start.