Back to work – Life Expectancy

Back from my vacation/trip.  No surprise – nothing has changed.  Lots of bluster, lots of politics, little substance.

But one bit of data caught my eye while I was away.  It has to do with life expectancy.

Before I show it to you, let me say that I know life expectancy is not a perfect metric of quality in a health care system.  There are other factors that can effect the life expectancy of a population.  That said, you would expect that we would do better than this:

That’s a slide I made using OECD Data that use regularly in talks about health care quality.  You’re looking at the expected life expectancy of the total populations (at birth) of 8 of the richest 10 countries in the world.  The United States not only has the lowest life expectancy, it has had the lowest consistently for a long time.

But this weekend, I saw something even more striking:

Here, you are looking at health care spending per person (on the left) versus life expectancy (on the right).  Here are the take home points:

  1. The United States spends WAY more per person on health care than any other country.
  2. The United States has a pretty poor life expectancy, especially when you see how much we’re spending.
  3. The United States is the only country (besides Mexico) without universal health coverage.
  4. The United States has some of the lowest average number of doctor visits a year.

Can someone justify this for me?  What’s the money for?

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