Analysis: US falls behind in life expectancy

Posted by David Gomez

There’s yet more evidence to suggest America is in a downward economic spiral. That’s because a recently released report indicates life expectancy in the US is falling.  

According to The Hill, The U.S. is falling behind Europe and other industrialized countries in life expectancy. This is despite the fact that The US spends at least 50 percent more per person on healthcare.
    
This study comes from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. It will most likely renew the debate over Democrats' healthcare reform law, which is designed to provide insurance coverage to millions more Americans while shifting to preventive care.
    
It will be interesting to see how the Democrats will justify their plan to give health insurance to millions of Americans when the US health care system has the most expensive prices in the world. Don’t be surprised if there is no attempt whatsoever to address the cost of health care services in the US, that’s off the table. They donate too much money to the candidates that the fawning corporate media shoves down the public’s throats.
    
It’s much easier for politicians to ignore the cost of healthcare/insurance and promise that the government’s tax dollar fueled plan will somehow be able to take care of people. Even if it appears that it will be unsustainable.

Has anyone noticed yet that people don’t want to hear about the practicality of government provided healthcare/insurance, they just want to hear about how much the government will hand out to them?
    
The state of US life expectancy is even sadder when you look at it in numerical terms. According to the study, The U.S. ranked 37th in the world for life expectancy in 2007. There were 860 counties, mostly in the south, which showed stagnant or declining trends between 1997 and 2007.
    
"We are finally able to answer the question of how the U.S. fares in comparison to its peers globally," Christopher Murray, the center's director and one of the paper's co-authors, said in a statement. "Despite the fact that the U.S. spends more per capita than any other nation on health, eight out of every 10 counties are not keeping pace in terms of health outcomes. That's a staggering statistic."
    
The report does get a bit sketchy when it claims that the low life expectancies in the US cannot be explained by the size of the nation, racial diversity, or economics. The authors claim that high rates of obesity, tobacco use, and other preventable risk factors for an early death are the leading factors of the gap between the US and other nations. It’s pretty clear that the size of the nation and racial diversity don’t have much to do with the declining life expectancy in the US.
    
But how can they make the claim that economics doesn’t have anything to do with the shortened life expectancy of people in the US? We pay more than any other country in the world, and yet we get very little comparatively for our money.  The US government won’t even allow the import of cheaper generic drugs from Canada even though President Obama supported it as a senator and when he was running for President. And now that he’s in office, guess what, no cheaper medications for people!
    
That’s just one example of the many ways that the life expectancy and health care problem in the US is very much related to economics. I’m just not sure how the report can claim that economics is not a factor in the declining life expectancy in the US.
    
Pharmaceutical companies pretty much have a monopoly in the US on the drugs they sell, and the drugs they sell to people are not at their free market price. They are sold at an inflated price because the government makes too much money off of Big Pharma to question the morality of their pricing scheme. So again, I find it really hard to believe that the authors of the report honestly don’t think that economics is a factor in the lowered life expectancy in the US.
    
Do they realize that if someone is really sick and needs medication that they cannot afford, that the person’s life could be shortened because of that? Obesity and smoking will shorten a person’s life expectancy as well, but let’s stop acting like those are the only reasons our life expectancy is shorter in the US.
    
The unnaturally high costs of everything in health care are a bigger problem for US life expectancy than people simply not taking care of themselves. It is a problem that was created by government and big business, not the people. And now the people REALLY need to start taking care of themselves because pretty soon Americans won’t be able to afford any medical care.
    
Check out the full report from The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation here. There’s some pretty informational graphics broken down by counties in the US.