Analysis finds Portland-area health care prices higher than average

The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) recently released its Healthy Marketplace Index, which compares the cost of health care services in 112 U.S. metropolitan areas. HCCI analyzed over 1.78 billion commercial claims from 2012 to 2016 in an effort “to help consumers and stakeholders understand how the prices in their local area compare to others around the country.”

The Portland metro area — including Vancouver, Washington, and Hillsboro — came in 16th in health care costs in 2016, with costs 7 percent above the national average.

In the analysis, HCCI notes that the national average is inflated due to a few outliers on the high end of costs. While Portland’s prices were 7 percent above the national average, it landed in the priciest 15 percent of metro areas included in the analysis. Cities with similar costs were Charlotte, North Carolina, and Oxnard, California.


Image: Health Care Cost Institute


HCCI broke down prices into three service types: inpatient, outpatient, and professional. In the Portland area, costs varied widely among types. Outpatient services cost 17 percent less than average; professional services, meanwhile, cost 22 percent more than average; and inpatient services cost 10 percent more.


Image: Health Care Cost Institute


The analysis also looked at how quickly prices increased locally versus nationally. In the five-year period HCCI considered (2012 to 2016), Portland’s overall prices grew 16 percent. That’s right on par with the national average; within service types, growth rates didn’t differ from the respective national average by more than two percentage points.


Image: Health Care Cost Institute


This report is HCCI’s first in what will be a series of interactive analyses of health care spending across the U.S., with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Future releases will focus on utilization, spending, market concentration, and waste.