U.S. leads in health care spending but ranks low in life expectancy
We’re proud to be Americans. The words of poet and lawyer Francis Scott Key were written in 1814 about the battle of Fort McHenry that took place in the War of 1812. Those words became part of our “Star-Spangled Banner,” which became famous in 1931 when President Herbert Hoover adopted our national anthem.
For 200 years since Francis Scott Key wrote about “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” people from around the world would like to live in the United States of America because our land is the best — or is it?
3UREDEOy, IRU WKH fiUVW WLPH, D comparison study of the most advanced countries has revealed some shocking facts. To do this unbiased comparison it takes SHRSOH wKR DUH QRW LQfluHQFHG Ey government or paid by pharmaceutical companies. The National Academy of Sciences has been around since the days of Abraham Lincoln. This organization has an arm known as the Institute of Medicine made up of 1,900 members who basically donate their time and expertise. It is not part of the government. The IlM provides advice and decisions to the country and the public.
lf 17 nations that were studied, the United States has the highest mortality until Americans reach the age of 50 and then this country ranks second until the age of 70. lf the 17 countries, the United States came in last in life expectancy.
Japan was the leader of the most industrialized nations. According to the United Nations, Japan’s average life expectancy for men was 79.25 years and for women it was 86.06 years. This was quite a shock compared to life expectancy in the United States where it is 75.35 years for men and 80 years for women.
To examine a comparison at the shortened end of life, in Lesotho at the lower end of Africa, life expectancy is 48 years for women. In the Central African oepublic it is 44.47 for men and 47.31 for women.
The world average life expectancy is 65.71 for men and 70.14 for women, according to the United Nations. It was slightly shorter according to The C.I.A. World Factbook of 2010 at 64.52 years for men and 68.76 years for women. In 2010, the Unit- ed States tied Norway in life expectancy at 29th for men and Estonia at 33rd for women. In contrast, the major countries that followed Japan were Singapore, Switzerland and then Spain for men. For women, after Japan, it was South Korea, then Spain followed by Singapore.
These studies revealed the countries had longer life but not necessarily a healthier life. In many countries, people live long but KDYH fiQDO yHDUV RI VuIIHULQJ IURP strokes, arthritis and other chronic diseases.
The United States spends the most money on health care. It leads all countries on dollars spent at 17.6 percent of dross Domestic Product in 2010 while France and dermany spent 11.6 percent.
The IlM does not have a speFLfiF UHDVRQ WKDW wH VSHQG VR PuFK on health care and still come in last. There are multiple reasons. The United States ranks poorly in care for premature births and the low proportion of children who live to age 5. The adolescents in this country have a high rate of GHDWKV IURP WUDIfiF DFFLGHQWV DQG homicides.
The United States has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy. voung people in this country are more likely to acquire sexually transmitted diseases than in most other countries. We have many drug related deaths. lbesity and diabetes are common. lne of the VLJQLfiFDQW SUREOHPV LV WKH KLJK rate of deaths from guns in the United States.
Perhaps we need a change in attitude. In the United States we tend to feel invincible. We should change our philosophy on life. No longer should we “live for today” and not worry about tomorrow when the future becomes today.
Health & Science Dr. Milton Friedman