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The Cost of Dying: Average cost of funerals, cremations, and medical care

We know that death and finances is not a topic people want to discuss, but it is something people should be aware of. Funerals, cremations, and medical costs are expensive and can be a surprisingly large bill.

We wanted to analyze the true cost of dying in each state based on official data to find out just how much people are having to spend at an incredibly difficult time for many.

Contents

Key statistics

  • The average cost of dying in the US is $19,565.80 based on the average medical costs and burial/cremation service
  • Across the US, funeral costs have risen by $1,445 (23%) since 2006, while cremations have increased by $567 (9%) since 2014. 
  • Hawaii is the most expensive state for funerals ($14,478) and cremations ($12,095)
  • Oklahoma is the cheapest state for funerals ($6,046) and cremations ($5,086)
  • Mississippi is the cheapest state for end-of-life medical costs ($9,817) and is the cheapest state to die in overall, costing $15,207 for medical treatment and a cremation.

Section 1: Cost of dying in 2021

The national average cost of dying for all states is $19,565.80, this is based on a calculation that is proportional to the average number of cremations and burials as well as the average end-of-life medical costs.

Total average cost of dying graph

Using the latest figures available from the National Funeral Directors Association, we have created a state-by-state breakdown of how much a funeral with burial would cost, compared to a cremation service alongside data on average end-of-life medical costs and a proportional total.

Total Medical Funeral Cremation

Which states cost the most to die in?

For the trio of burials, cremations, and medical costs, Hawaii is the most expensive state by a leap of thousands of dollars; it’s no contest. The top five most expensive states for both cremations and burials are extremely similar too.

Most expensive states for funerals

For funerals with burials, the top five most expensive states are: 

  1. Hawaii ($14,478)
  2. D.C* ($11,863)
  3. New York ($11,505)
  4. California ($10,381)
  5. Massachusetts ($9,888)

What is the average cost of a funeral service in the US?

The national average from the National Funeral Directors Association, adjusted for 2020, for funerals with burials is just over $7,904. This ranges from $14,478 in Hawaii, and $6,046 in Oklahoma.

Most expensive states for cremations

The top five most expensive states for cremations features the same names but in a slightly different order: 

  1. Hawaii ($12,095) 
  2. New York ($10,340)
  3. D.C* ($10,265)
  4. Massachusetts ($8,920)
  5. California ($8,672)

What is the average cost of cremations in the US?

The national average cost for cremations in the US according to 2020 figures is $6,863, this is almost double in Hawaii ($12,095), and slightly cheaper in Arkansas ($5,139).

Most expensive states for end-of-life medical costs

When it comes to medical costs, the top four look familiar but the 5th state is different to burials and cremations: 

  1. Hawaii ($23,073)
  2. D.C* ($18,473)
  3. New York ($17,032) 
  4. California ($16,544)
  5. Oregon ($15,533) 

What is the average cost for end-of-life care in the US?

The 2020 national average for end-of-life medical costs is just over $12,285, this does vary per state however, with the most expensive costs in Hawaii ($23,073) and the cheapest fees in Mississippi ($5,389).

Which states cost the least to die in? 

The cheapest states for both funerals and cremations are Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico, Texas, and Mississippi. When you account for medical costs too, Mississippi is the cheapest by $10 ($15,207) followed by Oklahoma ($15,217).

Cheapest states for funerals

While the top five cheapest states for funerals and cremations remain the same, the order fluctuates between the two service types. The following five are the cheapest states for funeral services: 

  1. Oklahoma ($6,046)
  2. Arkansas ($6,108)
  3. Mississippi ($6,160)
  4. New Mexico ($6,168)
  5. Texas ($6,378)

Cheapest states for cremations

Cremations are on average, $1,041 cheaper than funerals with a burial, largely due to the price of caskets. The following five states are the cheapest for cremations:

  1. Oklahoma ($5,086)
  2. Arkansas ($5,139) 
  3. New Mexico ($5,190) 
  4. Texas ($5,366)
  5. Mississippi ($5,389)

Cheapest states for end-of-life medical costs

A slightly different story plays out in relation to end-of-life medical costs, with Mississippi being the cheapest, and the reason it is the cheapest state to die in overall.

  1. Mississippi ($9,817)
  2. Kansas ($10,084) 
  3. Oklahoma ($10,131)
  4. Arkansas ($10,235)
  5. Missouri ($10,352)

Section 2: Rising cost of dying over time

To analyze the cost of dying over time and how this has changed, we used historic data shared with us by the NFDA which looks at census regions and their cost averages. 

Funeral costs in the US over time

States in the Pacific region (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington) saw the largest increase over time at 31.09%, while states in East South Central (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee) saw the lowest increase which was still just under 10% (9.93%) since 2006. 

One thing to note from the data is that West South Central (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas) is the exception to the upward trend as average funeral costs fell from 2016 to 2019 by an average of $263. 

Region 2006 2009 2012 2014 2016 2019 % Change (06-19)
Region Pacific 2006 $5,561* 2009 $6,285* 2012 $6,080* 2014 $6,374 2016 $6,625 2019 $7,290 % Change (06-19) 31.09%
Region West North Central 2006 $6,242 2009 $6,890 2012 $7,163 2014 $7,718 2016 $7,815 2019 $8,123 % Change (06-19) 30.13%
Region Middle Atlantic 2006 $6,280 2009 $6,660 2012 $7,378 2014 $7,168 2016 $7,420 2019 $7,848 % Change (06-19) 24.97%
Region Mountain 2006 $5,561* 2009 $6,285* 2012 $6,080* 2014 $6,500 2016 $6,681 2019 $6,907 % Change (06-19) 24.20%
Region South Atlantic 2006 $6,118 2009 $6,275 2012 $6,753 2014 $7,103 2016 $7,077 2019 $7,461 % Change (06-19)21.95%
Region New England 2006 $6,287 2009 $6,513 2012 $7,350 2014 $7,508 2016 $7,468 2019 $7,612 % Change (06-19) 21.08%
Region East North Central 2006 $6,501 2009 $6,763 2012 $7,155 2014 $7,265 2016 $7,595 2019 $7,855 % Change (06-19) 20.83%
Region West South Central 2006 $5,933 2009 $6,300 2012 $7,007 2014 $6,638 2016 $7,196 2019 $6,933 % Change (06-19)16.85%
Region East South Central 2006 $6,689 2009 $6,595 2012 $6,805 2014 $7,123 2016 $6,920 2019 $7,353 % Change (06-19) 9.93%
National average 2006 $6,195 2009 $6,560 2012 $7,045 2014 $7,181 2016 $7,360 2019 $7,640 % Change (06-19) 23.33%

*Averages for Mountain/Pacific were recorded as one region until 2014 by the NFDA

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the prices of burial caskets rose 230% from 1986 to 2017, this was actually 135% above the standard cost of living increases in the same time period.  

Cremation costs in the US over time

Nationally, there has been an increase in cremation costs of 9.33% from 2014, with the Middle Atlantic region (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania) seeing the sharpest rise at 12.79% in the same time period. States in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) saw the lowest rise in cremation prices at 1.81%. Despite this, Massachusetts is still the 4th most expensive state for cremations, with Connecticut 6th out of all states. 

States in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) saw the lowest rise in cremation prices at 1.81%. Despite this, Massachusetts is still the 4th most expensive state for cremations, with Connecticut 6th out of all states.

Region 2014 2019 % Change (14-19)
Region Middle Atlantic 2014 $6,253.00 2019 $7,053.00 % Change (14-19) 12.79%
Region West North Central 2014 $6,508.00 2019 $7,263.00 % Change (14-19) 11.60%
Region Pacific 2014 $5,569.00 2019 $6,090.00 % Change (14-19) 9.36%
Region Mountain 2014 $5,328.00 2019 $5,812.00 % Change (14-19) 9.08%
Region East North Central 2014 $6,270.00 2019 $6,810.00 % Change (14-19) 8.61%
Region South Atlantic 2014 $5,948.00 2019 $6,456.00 % Change (14-19) 8.54%
Region East South Central 2014 $5,958.00 2019 $6,378.00 % Change (14-19) 7.05%
Region West South Central 2014 $5,723.00 2019 $5,833.00 % Change (14-19) 1.92%
Region New England 2014 $6,745.00 2019 $6,867.00 % Change (14-19) 1.81%
Region National average 2014 $6,078.00 2019 $6,645.00 % Change (14-19) 9.33%

Why do funerals and cremations cost so much? 

Using the NFDA’s analysis of average figures we can understand further what makes funerals and cremations so expensive. The following are breakdowns we have visualized taken from the NFDA data.

Funeral Cost Breakdown

Average service fees without everything else are a staggering $2,195 to start, however the casket fee is what drives the price of funerals much higher than cremations. The average price of a casket according to the National Funeral Directors Association is $2,500, compared with $295 for an urn for those who choose to be cremated. 

Burial funeral fees breakdown graph

Breakdown of average cremation fees

Cremation fees breakdown graph

Methodology

To find out typical funeral costs, we used the National Funeral Directors Association’s (NFDA) latest (2019/2020) dataset on funerals with casket (not with vault), and cremation costs, based on census regions (New England, Middle Atlantic, South Atlantic, East South Central, West, South Central, East North Central, West North Central, Mountain, Pacific). Region-specific data was then adjusted to 2020 figures for state-level analysis using the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s (MERIC) Cost of Living index. 

Region-specific data was then adjusted to 2020 figures for state-level analysis using the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s (MERIC) Cost of Living index.

To obtain regional data and historic datasets, we contacted the NFDA separately and were sent datasets for various years ranging back to 2006 for funeral costs and 2014 for cremation costs (the earliest both datasets were available). 

To create a ‘cost of dying’ we took the percentage of cremations (56%) and burials (37.5%) from the NFDA, and proportionally calculated this alongside the medical costs to create an average cost formula that is representative for the US averages. 

Medical cost data was taken from an average created by the National Bureau of Economic Research and adjusted for 2020 figures per state using the MERIC Cost of Living index. 

*D.C is referred to in the top states sections to offer the most transparent view of the data we analyzed.

States by Census Region

For clarity, the following is a breakdown of the states and how they fit into the census regions used by the NFDA for their regional analysis of funeral and cremation data. 

  • New England: Connecticut, Maine. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
  • Middle Atlantic: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
  • South Atlantic: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia
  • East South Central: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee
  • West South Central: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas
  • East North Central: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin
  • West North Central: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
  • Mountain: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
  • Pacific: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington

Sources

National Funeral Directors Association’s data on funeral costs, burial costs, cremation costs, burial and cremation rates (emailed privately, Feb 2021, some public data available here: https://nfda.org/news/statistics)

Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator (https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm)

Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s Cost of Living index (https://meric.mo.gov/data/cost-living-data-series)

BLS: Consumer Price Index (https://www.bls.gov/cpi/data.htm

Statista: Rising cost of an adult’s funeral (https://www.statista.com/statistics/251686/funeral-cost-for-adults/)

National Bureau of Economic Research: ‘Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenditures at the End of Life:  https://www.nber.org/bah/2010no2/out-pocket-health-care-expenditures-end-life

CDC: End of life medical costs (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus10.pdf)

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