A Mayo spokesman, Bryan Anderson, said Mayo tends to treat sicker patients requiring more costly treatment. And patients in smaller cities tend to be older, and also costlier to treat, than their metro counterparts.
Sheran also said Mankato's hospital is reimbursed by government programs such as Medicaid at a lesser rate than metro area hospitals, so it may have to charge higher prices to insured patients to make up the difference.
"Those lost dollars get shifted over and built into the pricing for the private marketplace," she said.
These geographical disparities are also apparent in the small group market, typically used by employers. A Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota rate map, which calculates prices based on average medical costs in an area, shows that the Mankato region pays the fourth-highest of the state’s nine regions.
It also shows the Rochester area pays the most, about 30 percent more than the metro area.
Sheran said she is interested in figuring out where and why the highest premiums are paid to figure out how to bring them down.
"Many people in southern Minnesota will be looking at this issue," she said.