Researchers: U.S. system to blame for drop in life expectancy rates
By Lauren McNitt
Fifteen-year survival rates for Americans age 45 and older declined from 1975 to 2005 when compared to other wealthy nations, according to a recent study.
As Americans are notorious for being unhealthy relative to the populations of other developed countries, this is not much of a surprise. For instance, the World Health Organization reports that 80.5 percent of Americans are overweight. That’s higher than any European country.
Knowing that many Americans are over-stressed, overweight and subsequently unhealthy explains why many of us aren't living as long as we should. However, researchers at Columbia University say these factors have little to do with our drop in survival rates.
In a recent study, they found that while we aren’t seeing the gains in life expectancy of 12 other wealthy countries with universal health care, we are spending more money. Per capita spending on health care in the U.S. increased at almost twice the rate of the other nations, according to the study.
So how is it possible that the U.S. is spending so much on health care, yet we are not keeping up with other nations in life expectancy?
Since the study accounted for factors such as diet and smoking, the researchers theorize the following issues are to blame:
1. As health spending rises, so does the number of Americans with inadequate health coverage
2. High spending is hampering public funding on more important life-saving programs
3. Americans’ reliance on specialty medical care results in high spending on unneeded procedures
4. The country’s system of unregulated fee-for-service reimbursement contributes to high spending on unnecessary procedures
However, whether the reforms currently taking effect will provide a solution to the problem remains under debate.