Healthy Life Expectancy and Medical Costs

The US is the most expensive healthcare system in the world, but far from the best.

According to a study published in the medical journal, Lancet (2010), the life expectancy of a male in the US is 75.9 years.  However, the “healthy life expectancy” is only 66.2 years.  Basically, 15% of one’s life is sacrificed to illness.

For females, the corresponding numbers are 80.5 and 69.5 — a sacrifice of 11 years to illness.

The US spends the most per capita on healthcare of any country.  However, countries that outperform the US on both life expectancy and healthy life expectancy include all of Western Europe, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand, Malta, Taiwan, Israel, Ireland, Chile, Canada, and Australia.

China is only slightly behind the US for me and outperforms the US for women (70.4 years of healthy life).

Part of the issue in the US has to do with cost of drugs, and that rests fully with Congress.  Nominally to incent research, the US Congress has given drug companies a pass to pad profits and place drugs out of the financial reach of the consumers who need them.  A simple example is Advair, the COPD treatment, which costs from $310 to over $400 in the US and $79 in Canada.

The US healthcare system is broken and produces inadequate results.  It’s time for a major change.


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