What changes in survival rates tell us about US Health Care

Peter A. Muennig, Sherry A. Glied

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Many advocates of US health reform point to the nation's relatively low life-expectancy rankings as evidence that the health care system is performing poorly. Others say that poor US health outcomes are largely due not to health care but to high rates of smoking, obesity, traffic fatalities, and homicides. We used cross-national data on the fifteen-year survival of men and women over three decades to examine the validity of these arguments. We found that the risk profiles of Americans generally improved relative to those for citizens of many other nations, but Americans' relative fifteen-year survival has nevertheless been declining. For example, by 2005, fifteen-year survival rates for fortyfive- year-old US white women were lower than in twelve comparison countries with populations of at least seven million and per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of at least 60 percent of US per capita GDP in 1975. The findings undercut critics who might argue that the US health care system is not in need of major changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2105-2113
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Affairs
Volume29
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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