A new analysis by the Health Care Cost Institute finds several common medical services and procedures are slightly less expensive in New Jersey than they are in many other states.

The report does not give specific breakdowns and rankings, but it indicates the cost for primary care doctor visits, as well as specialist and wellness visits, women’s health visits, childbirth, kidney stone evaluations, MRI’s and hip and knee replacement operations in the Garden state tend to be a bit lower than several other parts of the country, although these exams and procedures may vary significantly in price according to where you are in New Jersey.

That may sound like surprising news, considering the Garden State's high cost of living.

“This is happening because hospitals have been embracing the concept of the Affordable Care Act [...] Better health, better care at lower cost, providing the right care in the most cost effective setting,” said Sean Hopkins, senior vice president of Federal Relations & Health Economics for the New Jersey Hospital Association.

He said there’s been a shift in “providing care to patients in the hospital setting."

"There’s a lot more emphasis on wellness and preventative care. Trying to provide care in less costly settings like the outpatient setting, and as healthcare technology moves forward what we’re seeing is hospitals are paying attention to the need to provide the right care in the right setting.”

Hopkins noted the fact that New Jersey is a very densely populated state, in between New York and Philadelphia, means there is a significant concentration of doctors and choices for patients and that may hold down prices in some areas.

“I think New Jersey hospitals are committed to providing high quality low cost care to the patients in their community,” he said. “We’re seeing that in New Jersey hospitals have been focused on efficiency efforts that allow them to reign in costs while maintaining high quality care.”

He added recent mergers of several hospitals may also have a positive effect on costs.

“It also provides for some clinical interaction and integration between facilities that were not connected,” he said.

The study found the state with the highest average health care costs is Alaska, followed by Wisconsin and North Dakota. Arizona, Florida and Maryland offered the most health care services that were priced lower than the national average.

The report recommends comparing prices for different procedures and exams in different parts of whatever state you're living in in order to be able to get the best care at the most affordable rate.

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