Americans Spend More on Health Care with Worst Results

A new report comparison analyzed spending on health care by 13 industrialized nations and found the United States to be faring the worst. The U.S. health-care system is shelling out ample amounts of cash, but American life expectancy continues to be the lowest.

The recent global report proves that money cannot buy you health, with the U.S. being the top spender among the nations represented, according to the Commonwealth Fund study. The U.S. spends more than $9,000 per person annually, which means 17 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) is being spent on health care.

But where is the return on this investment? Seventeen percent of the U.S. GDP equates to approximately 50 percent more spending on health care than any of the other 12 countries, according to the study. Switzerland, the second highest health-care spender, invests $6,325 per citizen annually. However, the average Swiss can look forward to living to 83 years old, which is four years more than the average American, a life expectancy of 79, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Time and again, we see evidence that the amount of money we spend on health care in this country is not gaining us comparable health benefits,” Dr. David Blumenthal, Commonwealth Fund president, commented in a recent press release. “We have to look at the root causes of this disconnect and invest our health care dollars in ways that will allow us to live longer while enjoying better health and greater productivity.”

American Flag and StethoscopeWhat are the root causes behind the increasing waste of health-care spending by the U.S.? What is the real disconnect? America did fare well in regards to cancer in comparison to the other countries in the study; however, the U.S. was off the charts when it came to obesity and infant mortality.

Obesity rates in America continue to rise and childhood obesity is running rampant, leading to chronic diseases in the generations to come. Obesity is often grouped into metabolic syndrome as one of the leading risk factors for several chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Also of note, heart disease remains the number one killer of American adults, killing well over 600,000 per year. One in every three men in the United States has some form of cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association (2013). These examples could be key attributes to the disconnect to which Dr. Blumenthal refers.

The Commonwealth Fund study also found the U.S. to be quicker on the trigger for diagnostic PET and CT scanning. And, not shocking, America was the largest consumer of prescription medicine. Traditional health-care services and treatment are not your only options. You may find alternative therapies, yoga, meditation, eating healthy and daily exercise all excellent and essential alternatives to prescription medication and overtreatment with gadgets and prods at the doctor’s office.

With U.S. health-care spending the highest and life expectancy the lowest, what do you think could be done to lessen the disconnect?

—Stephen Seifert

Stephen Seifert is a writer, professor, adventurer and a health & fitness guru. His flair for travel and outdoor adventure allows him to enjoy culture and traditions different than his own. A healthy diet, routine fitness and constant mental development is the cornerstone to Stephen’s life.



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