US Spends Most But Has Least to Show in Health Outcomes

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranks the United States near the bottom in life expectancy among wealthy nations despite spending more than double per person on health care than the world’s average. Life expectancy at birth in the U.S. was 78.1 years in 2007, less than the OECD average of 79.1, and puts the U.S. just ahead of the Czech Republic, Poland and Mexico.

Total U.S. spending on health care was $7,290 a person in 2007, nearly two-and-a-half times the OECD average of $2,984. Spending on health care in the U.S. grew more quickly between 1997 and 2007 than in France, Italy, Germany and Spain, averaging 3.4 percent annually over the period. The U.S. also underperforms other rich countries in the health of its youngest. U.S. infant mortality, at 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, was well above the OECD average of 3.9 in 2007.

The U.S. was the world’s biggest spender on pharmaceuticals, spending $878 per person, with Canada next at $691 per person and the OECD average at $461.

Ironically health care “reform” will do nothing to curb costs or improve outcomes. It will in theory grant access to those who had none before and that is good but providers are ill equipped to handle the new onslaught that will result.

Bottom line – as a nation we need to take self responsibility for our health. There is an expectation, an entitlement attitude, that if we get sick there is a drug, a therapy, a procedure that will make it all better. In many cases all we are doing is maintaining control of chronic conditions that should have never surfaced if we took better care of ourselves. This only adds to the cost of healthcare and the expectation that I can let myself go and someone will take care of me.