Outlier Nation: US Health Care Spending and Life Expectancy

There are many reasons that life expectancy is not a good measure of a health care system. For starters, how long people live is often more a function of public health systems then of medical care systems, with clean water and low rates of infectious diseases having more impact on people’s life expectancy than their axis, or lack of access, to PET scanners. In addition, many social and economic forces have a big impact on life expectancy, in ways that no medical care system can necessarily make up for. That said, the accompanying figure is an astonishing picture of just how much of an outlier nation the US has become:

health spending v life expectancy

I will not try to pull too much meaning from one picture. But it is a sobering reminder that despite all of the wealth we have in the United States, and the huge portion of that wealth that we pour into our healthcare system, the people living in our great country live shorter lives than most of our peers.

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