If you make a ranked list among developed nations on how well the US is doing in health care, we are towards the top of the list. If you hold the list upside down:
Americans live shorter lives than citizens of almost every other developed nation, according to a report from several US charities.
The report found that the US ranked 42nd in the world for life expectancy despite spending more on health care per person than any other country.
Overall, the American Human Development Report ranked the world’s richest country 12th for human development.
The study looked at US government data on health, education and income.
The report was funded by Oxfam America, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Conrad Hilton Foundation.
The report combines measurements of health, education and income into one measurement – the human development index – based on that used by the United Nations.
Health insurance. (BBC, h/t reader “slovenia”)
The US has higher infant mortality than most developed countries and within the US there are substantial gaps. We’ve come to expect southern states like Mississippi and Alabama to be more like third world countries in all kinds of human services, including health care, and indeed as states they are down near the bottom. But it’s not just the usual suspects. Ranking the human development level (income, quality of life, health) in 436 congressional districts, the bottom slot is held down by Fresno, California. Their income is only a third of the top district. Among rich nations, the US has more children living in poverty than any other (15%). And, of course, we have more people in prison.
Health experts have suggested at least two reasons for the poor health indices of the US population. One is obesity. I’m not sure about that one, although some data from CDC just released are at least congruent with that idea. Mississippi holds down the bottom spot for states (as opposed to congressional districts) and it also is the fattest state (Alabama and Tennessee are almost as bad; all have more than 30% of their population with BMIs over 30, the CDC definition of obesity). The other is lack of adequate health care because of inadequate health insurance or access to medical care. Every other wealthy nation has universal health care. And they have healthier people.
But maybe there’s no connection. After all, as we are always reminded, correlation isn’t causation. Right.