We all want to envision a long and healthy life. As a nation, we spend more per capita on health care than any other country in the world. Are we getting what we are paying for? Not according to a report from The National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine that looks at the relationship between healthcare and longevity across 17 developed countries. According to this report, the US ranks dead last in life expectancy.
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The report brings up many questions. Why does our life expectancy lag behind the rest of the world? There are several factors that could contribute to this fact. Car usage, lack of exercise, junk-food diets, gun deaths, high numbers of uninsured with a lack of health care and high rates of poverty are all contributing factors.
Of all the countries studied, the US ranks highest in violent death, about three times higher than the next highest and 15 times higher than lowest ranking Japan.
The study reports that the US has the highest infant mortality rate of any high-income country. Adolescents in this country have higher rates of death from traffic accidents and homicide, the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, and are more likely to acquire sexually transmitted infections.
The report also states that “Americans are more likely to find their health care inaccessible or unaffordable,” it concludes. “Americans benefit less from safety net programs that can buffer the negative health effects of poverty and other social disadvantages.”
There is some encouraging news among the bad. Although the mortality rate for Americans under the age of 50 is significantly higher than all of the other countries, things seem to shift as Americans age. The US mortality rate is the highest of the 17 nations until Americans hit 50 and then second-highest until they hit 70. By the time American seniors hit 80 though, they have some of the longest life expectancies in the world.
We should all be asking why the big change? Do seniors suddenly change their lifestyles? Or could it be related to our health care system? Our private insurance model is vastly different from the universal health care found in the other countries in the study. That is, until the age of 65 when Americans reach Medicare age. At that time, Americans have the same universal health care system that the other developed nations have for all of their citizens.
That shift correlates with a big change in our health care outcomes. What impact with the Affordable Care Act have on this trend? Globe University students want to have an impact on our health care industry. Learn more about the health care industry and the opportunities available on our website.
Jerry Lovrien has held positions of Chief Executive Officer at health and behavioral health facilities in Minnesota and Washington State. He served successfully as State Director/Commissioner of Health and Behavioral Health in Georgia, West Virginia and Minnesota. Jerry has taught high school through graduate courses and is currently an Instructor with Globe University.