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Friday, January 11, 2013

54

America: "Shorter Lives, Poorer Health"

The video's pretty dry, but it seems to be a good summary of this cheery study comparing America to other countries, which is available in full as a free PDF, here or via the widget below. The Atlantic also has a useful summary, in case you missed it, and then here's a summary of that summary:

Among the most striking of the report's findings are that, among the countries studied, the U.S. has:

The report does reveal bright spots: Americans are more likely to survive cancer or stroke, and if we live to age 75 we're likely to keep on living longer than others. But these advances are dwarfed by the grave shortcomings.


One takeaway from all this is that there could maybe be a new super-rager tradition for 75th birthday parties — a sort of mirror quinceañera/bat mitzvah.

Tags:

health, usa



54 Comments / Post A Comment

Scandyhoovian

Now I know what I'll be reading over the weekend! That PDF is looooong!

Also, I am unsurprised by the findings. Considering how many people in this nation don't have any kind of a healthcare plan and are left to their own devices and/or made destitute by medical care, I am not surprised at all.

fondue with cheddar

@Scandyhoovian BUT AT LEAST WE'RE NOT SOCIALIST, RIGHT

jhonsons

The United States is among the wealthiest nations in the world, but it is far from the healthiest. The report finds that Americans live shorter and less healthy lives than people in other high-income nations and explores possible reasons for this disadvantage. In this video, Steven Woolf, the chair of the committee that wrote the report, explains its major findings.@j

parallel-lines

Maybe we should solve this by giving everyone MORE GUNS!

(fuck everything today, seriously)

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@parallel-lines
Seriously, if everyone was packing at ALL TIMES, then, if there was a threatening health problem, someone would be prepared to just SHOOT THAT PROBLEM AWAY.

garli

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll We should also shoot the messenger.

noodge

@parallel-lines

that reminds me of my favorite recent joke:
Q: how many NRA members does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: we need more guns!

leonstj

I saw the word "highest" an awful lot, and our bars seemed to be generally longer than everyone elses in the charts.

I have not read the article (I'm a fucking American, I don't need all of this dweeby detail, I get the gist), but it seems pretty clear to me that the stats indicate we're #1.

Eat it, Europe. (If we don't eat it all first).

parallel-lines

@leon s All of our giant foam #1 fingers are full of bullet holes.

leonstj

@parallel-lines - You show me a problem that can't be fixed with shooting, and I'll show you a non-creative thinker.

garli

@leon s Who should be shot.

harebell

The funny-sad part will be when major newspapers and people in certain swaths of the country act like this is surprising news.

werewolfbarmitzvah

@harebell From what I've seen, certain people react to this type of news by determining that the study is LYING TO US, just like THE GOVERNMENT does! And then they go on about how vaccines are bad for us, 9/11 was an inside job, etc.

harebell

@werewolfbarmitzvah
yes, totally. :(
I used to live in France and go through the healthcare system there, and also spent a few years in Germany (but was healthier so the only doctor I ever visited was the gyno); in both cases, it was stunning how good the healthcare was compared to the US, how much more thorough and thoughtful the preventive care was, and also how hugely, hugely nicer the way that it was delivered was. I never felt depersonalized the way I do in the US. My GP in France didn't even have a receptionist, just chairs in a cute little waiting area, and she'd come out herself to usher you in when it was your turn. No pressure on how long it took -- she interviewed me about my health and took notes in her study, which also had an examining table behind a Japanese folding screen -- and when it was done, because I had no health insurance, I had to pay out-of-pocket. Per visit, it cost 20 euros. (~US$25 at the time).

It's also great how certain pharmacists can and will diagnose and treat minor ailments, if you just walk in.

Basically it was all much more *human* and respectful and accessible -- instead of all the pseudo-scientific bureaucratic language and trappings, and the ritual of paper gowns, and months-long waits for doctor-gods that we've got in the US. It makes me sad that I live here now -- at least in regards to healthcare.

but as you can tell, I am an UNAMERICAN FURRIN LEFTIE and you shouldn't believe a word I say.

P.J. Morse

@harebell Oh, yes. I come from a family of European immigrants, and they used to be all, like, the medicine is so much better in the USA -- the doctors are so smart and the science is so good.

Sure, the doctors are smart, and the science really is that good if the cancer survival rates are any indication. But it's not as if all Americans benefit from that good science because the drugs and treatments are so expensive, and no one gives a shit about preventative medicine.

iceberg

"The highest chance that a child will die before age 5" really? even like wartorn countries?

SarahDances

@iceberg This is only compared with 16 other high-income "peer" countries"Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the UK.

Norrey

@iceberg It's a study of developed nations (Western Europe, Japan and Australia). Obviously our children survive better then those in the DRC, but the DRC is hardly the benchmark we should be comparing ourselves to.

RubeksCube

@iceberg No no, we're being compared to "peer" countries, according to the website. So, what they consider other "high-income democracies". I thought the same thing at first, too. AAannnnddd I should have refreshed before typing this. Sorry!!

iceberg

@SarahDances et al ah ok thx. i can't watch videos so i missed that part.

Marquise de Morville

@iceberg A lot of the peer countries are much smaller than the US. I assume that they correct for that, but a breakdown compaison by US state would be interesting, too. I still have to read the pdf, so maybe that is included.

adorable-eggplant

@SarahDances Ditto the quotes around "peer" countries: the US makes the list because we're in the OECD and have a comparable GDP per capita and median income, but the problem with averages is that they disguise inequality. By some measures, we're on par with those other countries, but other indicators tell a different story, e.g. the Gini index or the poverty rate (http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=z8ehg1neoorltg_&ctype=c&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=s&met_y=incompoverty_g1a&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&idim=country:USA&ifdim=country&hl=en&ind=false&icfg=z8ehg1neoorltg_%253A1%253Acountry%26%26USA:-32:-39:)

Summer Somewhere

@Marquise de Morville - The chart on the Atlantic summary recorded deaths per 100,000, so I assume all the data is population-proportionate.

@adorable-eggplant - from the Atlantic summary: "'A lot of people thought it was underserved populations that were driving the statistics -- the poor, the uninsured. They still are a big part of our challenge, but the fact that even if you're fairly well-to-do you still have these problems shatters that myth.'"

Saying "The U.S. is last of 17!!!" is pretty much the same as saying "the U.S. is 17th!!!". I assume they chose the former phrasing over the latter to emphasize drama over accuracy.

Ophelia

@Summer Somewhere I still think it's meaningful, particularly when you look at health spending vs. GDP (or per capita) of the US vs. peer countries. We spend a lot more on health care, but our outcomes aren't better. Generally speaking (and I'd have to actually find some research instead of just spouting stuff on the internet), the theory is that the issue is driven by the fact that we spend less on access to preventive care, and more on remedying problems, which costs more. We also have a health system that tends to marginalize nurses and nurse practitioners in favor of (more expensive) doctors, when most people could easily visit a nurse practitioner for basic health care, and be referred to a doctor when necessary.

I've been doing a lot of research lately re: prenatal and L&D care in the US, and the trends are disappointing. Sigh.

Summer Somewhere

@Ophelia Oh I didn't intend to imply that this study isn't meaningful! I think overstating the case undermines what is otherwise a very strong argument against infusing our healthcare system with capitalism. We're on the same side.

I was reading The Infinite Wait the other day, which includes a story about the author getting diagnosed and treated for lupus. I was saddened but not shocked when she mentioned that funding for researching the disease was slashed once a treatment was discovered, because it's more profitable to treat a disease than to cure it.

adorable-eggplant

@Summer Somewhere "even if you're fairly well-to-do you still have these problems" But that's such a distortion!! You have some (but not all) of those problems, and you have a means to remedy them. I have a friend who's a lobbyist for reform of hospital rules & regs in my state (so this is kind of his pet subject after kicking back a few beers) and he's always talking about how poverty affects peoples medical decisions (waiting until something dramatic happens to go to urgent care/not filling prescriptions and/or dropping medications suddenly due to financial strain). It's just not true that poverty and being under-served medically aren't intertwined in this country.

As Ophelia mentions, we spend a lot per capita, but our outcomes aren't better. That's the problem with looking at per capita spending in a highly unequal society: some people are spending hundreds of thousands on advanced surgeries and care, while a vast swaths of the population are uninsured or don't have primary care physicians.

Summer Somewhere

@adorable-eggplant I... haven't read the entire article, but I don't think the statement I quoted implies that there is zero relationship between poverty and ill health. The meaning I took away from it was something like this: I had always assumed one could buy their way into excellent health and excellent treatment in the U.S., but there is something wrong with our healthcare system/cultural values around what is healthy besides the exorbitant prices patients are expected to pay for services.

noodge

Fuck this noise. seriously. I should have pushed harder to get my British citizenship when I was married to my shitty ex.

noodge

@noodge guess I'll just have to become a kick ass nurse who SAVES THE COUNTRY'S HEALTH like Florence Fucking Nightingale or something instead.

TheBourneApproximation

The interesting finding to me here was that even when you restrict the study to the most privileged - white, upper-middle income, covered by health insurance - the US health is still worse. I do wonder what the underlying factors are...

About two years ago, I moved back to America after a few years in Europe, and I've definitely been feeling less healthy, even despite leaving grad school! I can't walk anywhere, so I have to drive. The food at the local grocery store is less healthy, more full of bland vegetables and snack foods. And if I do heave a health problem, it's much harder to sort out appointments and payment, even with insurance. At least in terms of the higher death rate, I think the last factor might be the biggest issue, but the standard lifestyle here certainly doesn't help.

Whelp, at least I don't get those "This video is blocked in your country" messages anymore!

leonstj

@TheBourneApproximation "The Food At the local health store".

For much of America, "the local health store" is getting a salad-wrap instead of a double-quarter pounder once a month or so. Regardless of class.

harebell

@TheBourneApproximation
The walking versus driving thing s huge, but also: we're discouraged from going to the doctor, and there's way less preventive care. In most European countries, the national healthcare plan will subsidize your yoga lessons or your gym membership, for example.

fondue with cheddar

@harebell I apologize for not remembering the details, but I saw something (a TED talk?) that talked about the healthcare system in some other country (in Eastern Asia?) where you only pay the doctor when you're well because the doctor's job is to keep you from getting sick. It makes so much sense!

Rock and Roll Ken Doll
Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll
Looks like we're killing it on TB, though! Actually, that makes NO SENSE to me.

Summer Somewhere

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll - I've encountered more workplaces with mandatory annual TB testing than any other sort of health concerns, in hospitals as well as working with homeless people or people transitioning out of homelessness. So maybe that's why?

MashaNigel

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll I assume that's mostly self-inflicted poisonings from mushroom-gathering. The deadly ones look like the non-deadly ones just ... too often. (And yet this is people's idea of fun, somehow.)

ninadarin

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sally118

It looks like the evolution doesn't do us only good. Evolution comes with higher levels of stress and longer work schedules. We forget about ourselves in the realm of the modern work environment. Now wonder the statistics show that the number of people that buy Aripiprazole has grown higher.

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