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Prescription_Drugs.jpgCalifornia may have high housing, fuel and electric power prices, but Californians' spending on health care is below the national average, according to a new data compilation by the Wall Street Journal.

California was spending $6,258 per resident on health care - doctors, hospitals, prescription drugs - in 2009, the latest year for which complete data were available, the Wall Street Journal study found.

That was about $600 less than the national average, with spending ranging from a high of $10,349 in Washington, D.C., to a low of $5,031 in Utah.

Overall, the data indicated that California was spending about $225 billion on health care from private and public funds in 2009, more than 10 percent of the state's economy and the largest single sector of its economy.

The number has grown since and is likely to jump sharply once billions of additional dollars begin flowing into the state's health sector from the federal Affordable Care Act. It will provide coverage to at least half of the state's estimated 7 million medically uninsured residents, much of it coming from the federal government but some from individuals and private employers.

The Wall Street Journal said that California's per capita spending on hospitals, the biggest single chunk of health care expense, was particularly low in 2009 - $2,077 or sixth lowest among the states. Its spending on prescription drugs was also among the nation's lowest, as was its level of obesity, at 23.8 percent of the adult population.

PHOTO CREDIT: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press file



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