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From Health Affairs
How Do American Survival And Medical Spending Rates Compare With Other Countries?
Bethesda, MD -- It is widely known that Americans spend more on health care per capita than many wealthier nations. It is also known that fewer of us are living as long as our international counterparts. A recent study shines a new light on this situation by exploring changes in 15-year survival at middle and older ages alongside per capita health care spending for the United States and 12 other countries. The study then examines the extent to which the survival and cost variations over time can be explained by demographics, obesity, smoking, or non-medical causes of death.
compared the United States and 12 countries that provide their citizens
with universal health coverage: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada,
France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland,
and the United Kingdom. They examined relative changes in cost and
15-year survival from 1975 to 2005, and focused on men and women
45 and 65 years old. According to the data, the United States is
falling further and further behind the 12 other countries with respect
to 15-year survival, and at the same time relative health care spending
has more than doubled. However, smoking and obesity, two major health
problems, do not seem to explain the poor U.S. performance. As it
turns out, the prevalence of obesity has grown more slowly in the
United States than in other countries and smoking prevalence has
declined more rapidly here. Rising health spending itself, the authors
conclude, might be responsible for the relative decline in survival.
They cite three consequences of rising health spending: an increase
in the number of people with inadequate health insurance; the inability
to allocate financial resources to life-saving programs; and unregulated
fee-for-service reimbursement and an emphasis on specialty care
that leads to unneeded procedures and fragmented care. As a result,
they concluded, meaningful reform may not only save money
over the long term: it may also save lives.
|About Health Affairs|
Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy. The peer-reviewed journal appears each month in print, with additional Web First papers published weekly at http://www.healthaffairs.org/. The full text of each Health Affairs Web First paper is available free of charge to all Web-site visitors for a two-week period following posting, after which it switches to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. Web First papers are supported in part by a grant from The Commonwealth Fund.