6 of the Cheapest Cities for Health Care in America

 A doctor holds a stethoscope on September 5, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. Doctors in the country are demanding higher payments from health insurance companies (Krankenkassen). Over 20 doctors' associations are expected to hold a vote this week over possible strikes and temporary closings of their practices if assurances that a requested additional annual increase of 3.5 billion euros (4,390,475,550 USD) in payments are not provided. The Kassenaerztlichen Bundesvereinigung (KBV), the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, unexpectedly broke off talks with the health insurance companies on Monday. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

(Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Health care is a source of financial stress and strain for many U.S. consumers. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report indicates that more than one out of four families recently experienced a financial burden due to medical care costs.

Between 1998 and 2008, the average cost of health care rose from $2,800 per person to $7,500 per person (according to Forbes), and by 2012, consumers were spending an average of $8,233 per year on health care costs. In 2014, a report by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that even those workers enrolled in employer-sponsored plans contributed an average of nearly $5,000 for their family coverage.

In the U.S., consumers as a whole spend more than other countries on healthcare, according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reports. The cost of a doctor’s appointment ranges from $60 to $250 before the costs of any diagnostic tests, lab work, or prescription medications. Today, with the Affordable Care Act, the requirement to have health insurance and the penalty you face for declining coverage is yet an additional cost for some individuals and families.

How much do you pay each year for health care? If you live in a city like Aspen, Colo., where insurance premiums are higher, your cost may be extremely steep. If you live in an area such as McAllen, Texas, or Miami, you may have high costs for doctors’ visits, hospital visits, and health care in general.

Considering your location plays such as large role in how much your healthcare costs, let’s take a look at some of the more inexpensive markets. These cities were chosen based on a publication by Livability on cheap places to find health care, and all income data come from the Census Bureau.

1. Iowa City, Iowa

Median Household Income: $41,410 Cost of a New Patient Office Visit (for something minor): $76
Primary Care Physician to Resident Ratio: 1:634 Cost of Heart Valve Surgery: $47,696

2. Morgantown, West Virginia

Median Household Income: $29,328 Cost of a New Patient Office Visit (for something minor): $75
Primary Care Physician to Resident Ratio: 1:841 Cost of Heart Valve Surgery: $45,138

3. Mankato, Minnesota

Median Household Income: $41,171 Cost of a New Patient Office Visit (for something minor): $82
Primary Care Physician to Resident Ratio: n/a Cost of Heart Valve Surgery: $46,572

4. Portland, Maine

Median Household Income: $44,458 Cost of a New Patient Office Visit (for something minor): $84
Primary Care Physician to Resident Ratio: 1:655 Cost of Heart Valve Surgery: $49,322

5. Hartford, Connecticut

Median Household Income: $29,430 Cost of a New Patient Office Visit (for something minor): $90
Primary Care Physician to Resident Ratio: 1:1,164 Cost of Heart Valve Surgery: $58,690

6. Charlottesville, Virginia

Median Household Income: $44,601 Cost of a New Patient Office Visit (for something minor): $92
Primary Care Physician to Resident Ratio: 1:392 Cost of Heart Valve Surgery: $46,721

Many of the locations with low health care costs also have lower median incomes and lower-than-average costs of living, which may play a part in the reduced medical costs.

Another factor to consider is insurance premium rates, which allow for a lower out-of-pocket cost. According to a recent publication by Kaiser Health News, Minneapolis offers the best insurance rates at $154 per month. Rated for a 40-year-old purchasing a lower-cost silver plan, this plan costs $259 per month in half of the regional markets (as of 2014).

Other cities that offer lower insurance rates include:

  • Pittsburgh, where a 40-year-old can purchase that same plan for $164.
  • Tucson, Arizona, where the cost goes up slightly to $167.
  • Salt Lake City, where premiums averaged around $173 last year.
  • In Tennessee’s Knoxville and Chattanooga, insurance costs are also on the lower end, at around $180.
  • In Hawaii, costs can even be surprisingly low (around $175).

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