These 5 States Have the Lowest Healthcare Costs in the U.S.

Healthcare has been top of mind for a lot of people since the COVID-19 pandemic began over two years ago. It’s something we all hope we don’t need too often — both because we want to stay healthy and because we don’t want to deal with the huge bills that come from even the simplest visits.

But the price you pay depends on more than just the care you need. Where you live also plays a factor. Here are the five states with the lowest average healthcare costs in the U.S.

The five states with the lowest average healthcare costs

These five states pay the least for healthcare on average as of the second quarter of 2022, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center:

  1. Kentucky (20.9% cheaper than the national average)
  2. Arkansas (18.8% cheaper)
  3. Maryland (11.9% cheaper)
  4. Alabama (10.4% cheaper)
  5. Tennessee (10.1% cheaper)

Though not technically a state, Puerto Rico also deserves a mention here. It has the cheapest healthcare costs of anywhere in the U.S., with average prices about 27.3% below the national average.

These figures might sound pretty great to you, especially if you live in one of the states listed above. But cost is only part of the story when it comes to healthcare. Ultimately, the most important thing is making sure you get quality care when you need it.

And when we evaluate the states in this way, the story looks very different. Of the five states listed above, only Maryland ranks well (coming in 6th overall) for healthcare access and quality, according to U.S. News and World Report. All the others are ranked 40th or below for quality.

But it’s important to remember that all of the figures above are averages for an entire state and don’t reflect the cost or quality of any individual provider or hospital. Every state is likely to see variability in quality from one hospital to the next, so it’s largely down to you to do the research necessary to find quality care at an affordable price.

How to find great healthcare at a reasonable price

For most of us, our healthcare options are limited by our area. Most of us aren’t going to drive several hundred miles to get care unless we have a very specific need. But if you live in an area that has multiple hospitals, you may have some choice in where you go for medical treatment. Research the hospitals in your area and check out rankings to see which provides the best care.

If you have private health insurance, be sure to research the policies available to you every year to see if you can find better coverage than what you have currently. Don’t just focus on the lowest premiums. Make sure the policy you choose covers all the tests and procedures you believe you and your family might need. Otherwise, you may have to drain your bank account to pay for care your policy doesn’t cover.

Stay aware of your health insurance’s provider network and avoid visiting out-of-network providers unless it’s an emergency. Using doctors outside of your insurance provider’s network can raise your bills considerably.

And most importantly, do your best to stay healthy. Eat right, try to get about eight hours of sleep each night, and make time for regular exercise. Take advantage of any free health screenings available through your health insurance provider as well to catch potential problems early. Doing these things will lead to huge rewards, both physically and financially.