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MONDAY, JANUARY 21, 2013
Americans on average are living longer than in the past, but the lifespan gains lag those of other nations, the report found.
U.S. men ranked last when it comes to longevity – about 75.6 years compared to 79 years for men in Switzerland, the top-ranked country. U.S. women ranked next to last, living about 80.8 years compared to 86 years for women in No. 1-ranked Japan.
“This disadvantage has been getting worse for three decades, especially among women,” researchers said.
Americans fared better in some areas with fewer deaths from cancer and better control of cholesterol and blood pressure.
Understanding the reason for poorer outcomes despite the roughly $2.6 trillion, and rising, that the United States spends annually on healthcare is a major issue as the nation struggles to revive its economy.
“Shorter lives and poorer health in the United States will ultimately harm the nation’s economy as healthcare costs rise and the workforce remains less healthy than that of other high-income countries,” the researchers wrote.
While part of the problem is likely linked to the increased gap between wealthy and low-income Americans and higher levels of poverty overall, the report said that does not fully explain the U.S. disadvantage. The report noted that even educated, upper income Americans with health insurance “are in worse health” than similar people in the other countries.
The researchers said the United States should look at policies that work in countries “with superior health” to seek answers. Without action, they said, “the health of Americans will probably continue to fall behind.”
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