Monday, August 13, 2007

U.S. Lags Behind 41 Nations in Life Span - Commentary

The following AP article caught my attention the other day when it posted on AOL news: “U.S. Lags Behind 41 Nations in Life Span.” Although the U.S. spends more per capita on health care than any other nation, the article states that Japan and most of Europe surpass the United States in life expectancy.

Dr. Christopher Murray, of the University of Washington, was interviewed for the AP article. He stated that: “Something’s wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries.” In fact, U.S. life expectancy moved down from 11th place to 42nd on the list.

Although several factors have contributed to the United States falling behind other industrialized countries, researchers state that a major reason is the fact that over 47 million Americans lack health insurance while our counterparts in Canada and most European countries have universal health care.

In addition to the uninsured, many Americans are underinsured and may lack prescription drug coverage, adequate mental health coverage, or dental insurance. People without adequate health insurance will wait longer before seeking treatment allowing illnesses to become more serious and difficult to treat. The uninsured and underinsured may also skip necessary preventative examinations and treatment. Every day there are people in the U.S. who have to make the difficult choice between skimping on food and paying for their medications. This should not be the case in a wealthy country like the United States.

It is not by choice that many people do not have health insurance. Smaller companies can no longer afford the high cost of health benefits for their employees. This leaves employees to find their own insurance. For those with pre-existing conditions, it may be impossible to find coverage, even for those that can afford the high premiums. For many, the high cost of health care is beyond their means to pay.

Consumer Directed Health Care companies can make paying for health care more affordable. Discount health plans can be combined with high deductible health savings plans to keep costs more affordable for businesses. Discount health plans can also help individuals and families who do not have insurance pay for needed health care by reducing the costs of doctor and dental fees; ancillary services such as lab tests, imaging studies, hearing aids, diabetic supplies; prescriptions; vision; and chiropractic care. For more information on affordable health care plans visit:

No comments: