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Americans rank highest in illness, death and health care costs: study

The United States was once a world leader for good reasons — now, we lead for many of the wrong ones.

Americans spend the most money on health care compared to other high-income countries, yet face the lowest life expectancy, according to a new study.

The Commonwealth Fund, a nonpartisan think tank that focuses on health care issues, released a new report this week, which compares the US to a dozen other developed nations, including the United Kingdom and Australia.

It revealed that US residents paid more per person, as well as a greater share of the country’s GDP, for health care. And despite paying top dollar, their life expectancy was just 77 years — well below the UK at over 80 years.

That’s because people in the US — at a rate of 336 per 100,000 as of 2020 — are dying more frequently of “avoidable” conditions. Case in point, nearly 43% of Americans are considered obese, whereas the average rate across 13 of the wealthiest countries is just 25%, researchers found.

Speaking of preventable deaths, 5.4 out of every 1,000 live births resulted in infant death, which is the most of any other nation studied. But it’s in maternal mortality where we really stand out: nearly 24 in every 100,000 US mothers in labor don’t make it out alive — well above the next highest nation on the chart, New Zealand, with just under 14 per 100,000.

In terms of mental health, we also have the third-highest suicide rate — which doubles that of the UK, the lowest of the bunch. And the US eclipsed the other countries by more than five to 37 times the rate regarding deaths from assault (7.4 per 100,000).


We also spend the most money on health care, the study showed.
Munira Z. Gunja, Evan D. Gumas,

America has the highest rate of obesity compared to other high-income countries.
America has the highest rate of obesity compared to other high-income countries.
Munira Z. Gunja, Evan D. Gumas,

According to the study, the United States had the highest rate of infant and maternal deaths.
According to the study, the United States had the highest rate of infant and maternal deaths.
Munira Z. Gunja, Evan D. Gumas,

The study showed that the U.S. had a higher-than-average rate of avoidable deaths.
The study showed the US had a higher-than-average rate of avoidable deaths.
Munira Z. Gunja, Evan D. Gumas,

The US is also the only high-income country that does not guarantee or provide free health care, according to the research.

“The findings of our international comparison demonstrate the importance of a health care system that supports chronic disease prevention and management, the early diagnosis and treatment of medical problems, affordable access to health care coverage, and cost containment — among the key functions of a high-performing system,” researchers concluded in the report.

Data for the Commonwealth Fund’s analysis was supplied by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and other international authorities.

As a result of their findings, the think tank called for affordable health care for all, and better awareness and treatment of chronic conditions that too often lead to early death, such as cancer, diabetes and asthma. US residents are also more likely to have two or more chronic conditions — which is almost twice the rate of those living in France.

“For the US, a first step to improvement is ensuring that everyone has access to affordable care,” researchers noted. “Not only is the US the only country we studied that does not have universal health coverage, but its health system can seem designed to discourage people from using services.”


COVID-19 also affected the country's death rates.
COVID-19 also affected the country’s death rates.
Munira Z. Gunja, Evan D. Gumas,

Adults in the U.S. were likely to have two or more chronic conditions, like diabetes or asthma, according to the study.
Adults in the US were likely to have two or more chronic conditions, like diabetes or asthma, according to the study.
Munira Z. Gunja, Evan D. Gumas,

US life expectancy took a big hit during the pandemic. The country has the highest coronavirus death rate compared to other high-income countries, and one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates at 69%. Only the Netherlands trumped the US on that one, coming in just one percentage point behind (68%).

“The findings of our international comparison demonstrate the importance of a health care system that supports chronic disease prevention and management, the early diagnosis and treatment of medical problems, affordable access to health care coverage, and cost containment — among the key functions of a high-performing system,” the Commonwealth Fund asserted. “Other countries have found ways to do these things well; the US can as well.”

This article was originally posted by The New York Post.

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