Life Expectancy in U.S. Rising Slower Than Elsewhere — OECD

Print Email

Americans do not age well, at least according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In its “Health at a Glance 2013,” OECD experts report:

life expectancy in the United States stood at 78.7 years in 2011:  an increase of almost eight years since 1970, but significantly less than the ten year gain registered across OECD countries. Life expectancy is now more than a year below the OECD average of 80.1, compared to one year above the average in 1970.  The gap between the United States and leading countries has also widened.  For example, the life expectancy for U.S. men in 2011 was 4.2 years shorter than in Switzerland (up from less than 3 years in 1970); for U.S. women, it was 4.8 years shorter than in Japan in 2011 (while there was no gap in 1970).

Healthcare expenditures in the U.S. are largely a waste, at least compared with virtually all other OECD nations:

The United States spends much more on health per capita than all other OECD countries, with spending of 8500 USD in 2011, two-and-a-half times greater than the OECD average (3322 USD) and 50% higher than Norway and Switzerland (the next biggest spending countries).  Higher health spending per capita tends to be associated with lower mortality rates and higher life expectancy, but this is not the case for the United States. Given its high level of health spending, the United States has relatively low life expectancy (five years less than what might be predicted by its health spending alone), although many other factors beyond health spending affect mortality and life expectancy.

Overweight Americans continue to put a massive burden on healthcare:

The obesity rate among adults in the United States is the highest of all OECD countries, with the rate reaching 36.5% in 2010, up from 30.7% in 2000. This is more than two-times greater than the OECD average, although the obesity rate in several countries is under-estimated because it is based on self-reports of height and weight. As is the case in several other countries, the obesity rate in the United States tends to be higher among disadvantaged socio-economic groups, especially in women. Mortality from obesity-related diseases increases progressively once the threshold is crossed.

Finally, it is a shame that Americans cannot sign up for healthcare because the Healthcare.gov site does not work. The OECD points out:

The United States is one of the few OECD countries that has not achieved yet universal health coverage for a core set of services. In 2011, it had the highest proportion of its population without health coverage among all OECD countries, with 15% of the U.S. population uninsured