People who live in the New England and Mideast regions of the United States spend significantly more on health care than those who live elsewhere in the nation, the federal government reported Tuesday in a Health Affairs Web Exclusive. Nine northeastern states (MA, ME, NY, CT, DE, RI, VT, WV, PA) and Alaska spent 20 percent more than the U.S. average on health care services in 2004 ($6,345 per capita versus $5,283) — a wide disparity partly attributable to the concentration of physicians, the age distribution of a state’s population, residents’ income levels, and the number of people who lack health insurance, according to officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In contrast, states in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions spent less than the national average. These states (including UT, AZ, ID, NM, and NV) spent about $4,244 per person in 2004 — one-fifth less than the U.S. average. These states typically had lower-than-average per enrollee Medicare and Medicaid spending and, because they tend to have more rural areas, less access to and availability of physicians and hospitals.

You can read Perspectives on the CMS report by Karen Davis and Cathy Schoen of the Commonwealth Fund and by John Holahan of the Urban Institute. You can also read media coverage of the study in outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Times.