U.S. Among the Sickest of Developed Nations

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75 percent of healthcare spending — the highest in the world — goes toward aiding people with chronic conditions. In fact, almost half of American adults had at least one chronic condition as 2005.

Chronic conditions — a category that includes everything from autoimmune diseases like arthritis and lupus, to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes — are not only the number one cause of death in the U.S., they’re compromising Americans’ quality of life and disabling people for long periods of time. For example, arthritis affects 20 percent of adults, and is the most common cause of disability in America. Those afflicted are projected to increase from 46 million to 67 million by 2030, and 25 million of these individuals will have limited activity as a result.

Not only are Americans as a whole getting sicker, but so are young people. A 2013 report by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (NAC/IOM) found that “For many years, Americans have been dying at younger ages than people in almost all other high income countries.” Their data showed that women are less likely to live to age 50 if they’re born in the United States than other high income countries; in the 1980s, the U.S. was in the middle-range for survival of women to age 50 pack, but since then, not only has the U.S. fallen down in the ranking, they’ve fallen off the chart.

Note that even when adjusting for race and socioeconomic status, the results are the same: rich Americans die earlier than rich people in other countries, college-educated people die earlier than college-educated people in other countries, and Americans as a whole are sicker and shorter-lived than comparable developed nations.

In fact, a recent report by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, says that “in some U.S. counties… life expectancies are on par with countries in North Africa and Southeast Asia.”

To learn more about this issue, and some of the complex and multidimensional factors behind it, click here.

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