Juneau's healthcare prices top nation

ANCHORAGE — A new study says four Alaska cities have the costliest health care prices in the nation.

Juneau was the costliest city for health care that was listed in the report released last week by the Council for Community and Economic Research, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Second on the list was Fairbanks, followed by Kodiak. Anchorage was fourth on the list, followed by Everett, Wash., and Boston.

The national research council measured 300 cities based on average 2013 prices for visits with physicians, dentists and optometrists.

The report says the average cost for a full vision eye exam in Anchorage was $166. That’s almost 72 percent higher than the national average.

A general physical in Anchorage averaged $166, about 63 percent higher than the national average. A teeth cleaning in Anchorage cost $124 on average, or 42 percent more than the national average.

Some health care professionals blame Anchorage’s high prices on the steep cost of such things as shipping, salaries and rents. Economists said costly health care affects the entire community. Health care professionals and economists said they have begun to form coalitions to address the costs.

“This isn’t just a low-income issue, it’s a community issue,” said Bill Popp, president of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., which collected the data for the research council. “This affects everybody.”

Julie Taylor, the CEO of Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage, moved to the city from Colorado early this year. She said doctors and nurses in Anchorage earn at least 30 percent more, not including sign-on bonuses or relocation expenses.

“You pay tens of thousands of dollars to get them up here and then you hope they stay,” Taylor said. “Some people can come up here and live here for three years and then they say, ‘We’re going back to the lower 48.’”

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