Breaking News Alert – Longevity in America is falling behind the rest of the modern world, where universal health care is ubiquitous and paid time off for illness, child bearing and vacations are common, unlike the United States.
Life expectancy at birth in America is now a year shorter than the average of 34 modern countries, while in 1970 it was a year longer, a detailed report just released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows.
Longevity at birth in America has increased, just less than in such nations as France, Japan and Switzerland.
For American women age 65, life expectancy in 2011 was another 20.4 years, far less than the 23.8 years in France and 23.7 years in Japan. Indeed, women age 65 could expect to live longer in 24 other modern countries, including Canada (21.6 years).
At age 65, American men can expect to live another 17.8 years, compared to 19 years or more in Australia, France, Israel, New Zealand and Switzerland. U.S. male longevity at 65 ranked 24th in 2011.
The quality of life for older people in countries where people live longer is also generally better, the OECD report shows, which means more happiness and less cost.
So why is America falling behind?
Because, the report says, the U.S. has a “highly fragmented” health care system, millions eat a poor diet and some use illegal drugs. It also noted the effects of “adverse socio-economic conditions” caused by worsening poverty and increasing income inequality.
America also has a higher murder rate than most of the modern world, which primarily affects young people’s life expectancy.
In America insurance companies are free to cancel policies after healthy people get really sick. They can also gin up reasons to deny care, as explained in my book Free Lunch.
Congress has known for years about corporate death panels that pay bonuses to doctors who find excuses to deny costly care. Refuse a heart transplant, for example, and the patient dies—and the insurance company avoids the costs of the surgery and aftercare, increasing profits.
Because of really bad reporting, though, the public seems largely unaware of this, worried instead about the government death panels that exist only in the minds of Sarah Palin and other people who get lots of news coverage for their fact-free and often ridiculous statements.
That America now ranks below average certainly is not because America spends too little on health care or, more accurately, sick care.