And so it is that in the United States of America – where the health care delivery system is so deficient, so defective, so in need of a thorough reconditioning – the life expectancy of Americans has reached its highest level ever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, there has been a ten year upward trend..
From the CDC website:
U.S. life expectancy reached nearly 78 years (77.9), and the age-adjusted death rate dropped to 760.3 deaths per 100,000 population, both records, according to the latest mortality statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report, “Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2007,” was issued today by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The data are based on nearly 90 percent of death certificates in the United States.
The 2007 increase in life expectancy – up from 77.7 in 2006 — represents a continuation of a trend. Over a decade, life expectancy has increased 1.4 years from 76.5 years in 1997 to 77.9 in 2007.
While heart disease and cancer remain the two leading causes of death in the United States (nearly half of all), both saw declines in their mortality rates in 2007. In fact, death rates have gone down for eight of the top fifteen causes of death – including influenza, pneumonia, diabetes and stroke.
It is important to note that two of the top fifteen leading causes of death – number five (accidents) and number 15 (homicide) – are not health related at all; and while both of those rates declined in 2007, number 11 (suicide) did not.
With all of this in mind, recall an article published by the New York Times two years ago in which they referenced an oft-quoted 2000 World Health Organization (WHO) report ranking the United States health care system 37th out of 191 nations surveyed:
There is a growing body of evidence that, by an array of pertinent yardsticks, the United States is a laggard not a leader in providing good medical care.
Of course, just a little bit of digging into the WHO report – and a subsequent report put out by the Commonwealth Fund that actually ranked the United States health care system at or near the bottom – shows that the rankings are based heavily on equity not quality. Such an approach assumes that providing health care to its citizens is the responsibility of government.
ABC’s John Stossel, in a response to the New York Times piece, wrote:
The WHO judged a country’s quality of health on life expectancy. But that’s a lousy measure of a health-care system. Many things that cause premature death have nothing do with medical care. We have far more fatal transportation accidents than other countries. That’s not a health-care problem.
Similarly, our homicide rate is 10 times higher than in the U.K., eight times higher than in France, and five times greater than in Canada.
When you adjust for these “fatal injury” rates, U.S. life expectancy is actually higher than in nearly every other industrialized nation.
Diet and lack of exercise also bring down average life expectancy.
The lines aren’t exactly extending around the country with people waiting to leave the United States for countries like Andorra and Columbia – both of whom ranked higher than the United States.