WebMD Medical News
Laura J. Martin, MD
Oct. 8, 2010 -- The U.S. has failed to keep up with other wealthy nations when it comes to achieving gains in life expectancy rates, despite continuing to spend more on health care, according to a new study.
Researchers from the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation focused on evaluating health care reform and health care policy, reviewed data on the U.S. and 12 other industrialized nations and looked at 15-year life expectancy rates for 45-year-old and 65-year-old men and women from 1975 to 2005. Their findings showed that:
Other industrialized nations included in the analysis were: Canada, Australia, Italy, U.K., Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Japan. The data used in the analysis were obtained from the World Health Organization, the CDC, International Mortality and Smoking Statistics, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The findings are published in the November issue Health Affairs.
"This study provides stark evidence that the U.S. health care system has been failing Americans for years," Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis, says in a news release. "The good news is that the Affordable Care Act will take significant steps to improve our health care system and the health of Americans by expanding health insurance, improving primary care, and holding health care organizations accountable for their patients' overall health."
The researchers say that the failure of the U.S. to make greater gains in survival rates despite its greater spending on health care may be attributable to flaws in the overall health care system, specifically the role of unregulated fee-for-service payments and an over-reliance on specialty care.
SOURCES:Muenning, P. Health Affairs, 29, November 2010.News release, The Commonwealth Fund.
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