US Lags Among Developed Countries in Health, Despite Spending

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Despite spending more on health care than any other nation, the health of the United States population is worse than other high-income countries, according to the findings of a new report.

A joint report by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine released Wednesday finds that “for many years, Americans have been dying at younger ages than people in almost all other high-income countries.” In fact, when the 17 highest-income countries are ranked in terms of life expectancy at birth, the U.S. is ranked 17th for men and 16th for women.

The idea that Americans have poorer health than residents in “peer countries,” which includes Western Europe, Canada, Japan, and Australia, is not new, but prior analyses have focused on the health gap between adults over the age 50.  This report focuses on the health of the entire spectrum of ages, from infancy through adulthood, and found similar results of disparity.  The report cites nine specific areas where Americans have worse outcomes than peer countries:

  • Infant mortality and low birth weight
  • Injuries and homicides
  • Adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Drug-related deaths
  • Obesity and diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Disability

These conditions disproportionately affect young people and decrease the likelihood that Americans will live to age 50.

But the picture is not entirely grim. Americans have a lower cancer rate and better blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  Those who make it to age 75 have a higher life expectancy than other countries.

Overall, however, Americans suffer from worse health throughout their lives, according to the report.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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