Why Is Life Expectancy in the USA Lower Than Most Wealthy Countries?

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  1. Nathanville profile image90
    Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago

    I caught sight of an article the other day discussing the positive impact the NHS has had on longevity in the UK since it's birth; and in rooting around the web I was shocked to see how low the longevity is in the USA compared to most other wealthy countries e.g. USA is currently 76.3 years (59th highest out of 201 countries (top 25%)) compared to 80.7 in the UK - and the UK is only 31st highest (top 15%)) - See Below:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_c … expectancy

    https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why … 2210202835

    Any thoughts?

    1. Stephen Tomkinson profile image92
      Stephen Tomkinsonposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      Could cost be having an effect?

      1. Nathanville profile image90
        Nathanvilleposted 4 months agoin reply to this

        Good question; I assume you mean cost of healthcare?

    2. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      It is interesting that lifespan is linked to the practice of forcing one person to pay for the health care of another rather than looking at all the possibilities.

      For instance, highway death tolls in the US, per billion miles driven, is triple that of the UK, without considering that the miles driven is also much higher.

      Diet is always a major player in lifespan, but never discussed.  Only the "free" health care system.

      Crime, and the consequences of violent crime, is a factor, but again, it is never mentioned.  Just the wonders of the NHS.

      There are a thousand factors that will play into lifespan - these should be thoroughly investigated before deciding that one country's longer lifespan is because the tax base is used to provide health care, however poorly it does so.

      1. Nathanville profile image90
        Nathanvilleposted 4 months agoin reply to this

        Thanks for the points raised, some valid ones that obviously are factors for consideration; however, taking your last comment first “….however poorly it (NHS) does so.”

        In spite of pressures put on the NHS in recent years because of Brexit, the pandemic and the protracted Industrial action over the past two years, and contrary to right-wing American propaganda, the NHS does an excellent job:-

        The NHS deals with life threatening conditions promptly, as I can personally testify to when I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance in Jan 2021.

        The NHS is accessible to everyone 24/7 for help and advice, and anyone can see their doctor whenever they want for even the most trivial of conditions or concerns for which many Americans wouldn’t even consider doing because of the cost to them e.g. co-pays.

        The NHS is very proactive in preventative medicine, for examples (just the tip of the iceberg):-

        •    All women from the age of 25 to 64 are automatically invited by the NHS for cervical cancer screening every three years.

        •    All women from the age of 50 to 70 are automatically invited by the NHS for breast cancer screening every three years.

        •    Everyone over the age of 60 is automatically invited by the NHS for bowel cancer screening every two years.

        •    All men are screened for AAA (Abdominal aortic aneurysm) at the age of 65, Germany does similar – but looking on American medical website; the screening is only recommended for men over 60/65 who are at higher risk e.g. because they smoked, or there is a history of it in their family – but, unlike the UK and Germany, it’s not offered to everyone in America?

        •    Over and above regularly health check-ups for people with medical conditions – Everyone else (people who are healthy) are automatically invited by the NHS for 5 yearly check-ups from the age of 40, so that developing conditions can be spotted early, and treated early.

        The NHS deals with over 570 million visits a year – from a population of 67 million (you do the maths).  Any life threating condition is treated by the NHS without delay.

        As regards funding of the NHS; it’s not a progressive tax, as you might imagine – it’s a regressive tax e.g. that part of the income tax on wages that specifically funds the welfare state in the UK e.g. State Pension, benefits and the NHS is called NI (National Insurance); and unlike conventional income tax where the percentage you pay increases the more you earn – The NI tax on income is a flat rate 10% on the wages of everyone who pay taxes; except the top 5% wage earners, who only pay 2% NI tax on their earnings (wages).  National Insurance tax on wages is a form of Insurance that is fair equitable.

        Your raise three other factors that contribute towards lowering the longevity to varying degrees e.g. road deaths; poor diet and violent crime.  The impact each one has on longevity depends on what percentage of deaths are caused by each of the three – I don’t know what the data is for the USA but I suspect poor diet (junk food) is a high cause of early death in America.

        Yep, the UK has the 6th safest roads in the world, while the USA has the 2nd most dangerous roads in the world: https://www.finn.com/en-US/press/the-wo … fest-roads

        But I take your point that it’s partly due to the fact that we don’t use our roads in Europe anywhere near as much as Americans use their roads; because we have a far more sophisticated and integrated ‘Public Transport’ system in Europe.

        Yep, violent crime in America features a lot in these forums; and certainly, as you infer, America is a very violent place to live.

        POOR DIET
        Yep, poor diet (junk food) is a major factor to ill health and an early death; more so in America than the UK.  Although Brits don’t eat as much junk food as Americans, Brits do, unfortunately, eat far more junk food than people across the rest of Europe.

        In that respect the NHS consistently run ‘public awareness’ campaigns e.g. TV Adverts, NHS newsletters regularly sent to most everyone by email and targeted text messages from the NHS to those who are identified as being high risk.

        The NHS encourages people to eat healthily and get plenty of exercise through their campaigns, as per these NHS TV adverts.

        NHS Adverts:
        •    How to measure your waist | NHS  https://youtu.be/dwk8sVCKuio
        •    How much is five a day? | NHS https://youtu.be/b-uX6N4RZjg
        •    Meet your NHS App https://youtu.be/zqivFwl7cWE

        So, in the UK, although the NHS may not be the only factor in keeping people alive for longer, it certainly is an important one.

  2. Stephen Tomkinson profile image92
    Stephen Tomkinsonposted 4 months ago

    Yes. I recently read a piece about the cost of insulin in the US. My American friends are constantly worried about affordable health care. People will cut corners if they can't afford treatment.

    1. Nathanville profile image90
      Nathanvilleposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      Yep, very valid point, that makes good sense - Thanks for the info smile

  3. Kathleen Cochran profile image74
    Kathleen Cochranposted 4 months ago

    "forcing one person to pay for the health care of another rather"

    That is the definition of insurance.

    1. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      While I carry insurance for a variety of things, including health care, I am not forced to purchase a single policy.

      Except for the taxes I pay to provide for someone else's health care.


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