US Has More Preventable Deaths and Improving at a Slower Rate than Europe
A new study by the Commonwealth Fund published in Health Affairs found that despite spending twice as much as the average Western European country for its health care, the United States lags deaths that could have been avoided with timely and effective health care. Examples of such conditions include diabetes and acute infections, which should be treated with insulin and antibiotics or appendicitis that can be treated by surgery.
Rates of potentially preventable deaths were highest in the United States, compared with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In addition, the rate of improvement was slower in the U.S. than in the other three countries during the period from 1999 to 2007.
Between 1999 and 2007, rates of potentially preventable deaths among men under age 75 fell by 18.5 percent in the U.S. During the same time period, the rate declined by 37 percent in the U.K., by 28 percent in France, and by 24 percent in Germany (2006).
In 2007, amenable mortality was highest in the U.S., with rates almost twice those seen in France. The lag was most pronounced among American men and women younger than 65.
The lack of progress in the United States was largely attributable to circulatory conditions other than heart disease—mainly cerebrovascular disease and hypertension. Thus, among US men under age sixty-five, there was a small increase in mortality rates. In contrast, among men in Germany, mortality from circulatory conditions other than heart disease fell 0.35 per 100,000 population annually; in the United Kingdom, they fell 0.66 per 100,000. The trend was similar in women. However, U.S women did experience small declines.
In addition, for U.S. citizens over the age of 65, there was an obvious lack of progress in the United States relative to other countries for mortality rates attributed to surgical conditions and medical errors.
Among people below 65, mortality rates for treatable cancers in 2006 were similar across countries. For people above 65, the rates were lowest in the United States.
Among women, mortality rates from treatable cancers fell more rapidly in Germany and the United Kingdom than in France and the United States.
However, these results also varied widely by the states. For example, Minnesota achieves outcomes as good as those in many European countries and has a preventable death rate that is less than half the rates in Mississippi and the District of Columbia.
Overall, younger Americans do not appear to benefit from health care to the same extent as do their older compatriots or Europeans.
The others cautioned that the data may underestimate U.S. problems due to the manner in which data is collected in the United States. The full report can be found here.
by Todd Miller
Sorry! No Links