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Are Americans Getting Their Money's Worth in Healthcare?

Controversy over healthcare in the United States warrants a look at some relevant statistics and issues. The nation struggles to improve access to basic healthcare for those in need, but the results of health-related spending don't seem to be producing very good results. In fact, money spent on healthcare exceeds that of any other nation while the condition of Americans' health seems to fall short of that in other developed nations.

The United States spent approximately 17.6 percent of its GDP on healthcare in 2010. The total for the nation was $2.6 trillion, averaging $8,233 per person. The next greatest percentage of GDP spent by another nation was 12 percent by the Netherlands. In fact, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, Germany and France were all very close to this percentage in their healthcare spending.

Given an expenditure of nearly 50 percent more than that of these other nations, it might be expected that there would be a related benefit in general health. However, the United States leads each of these nations in deaths recorded in 2008. The U.S. led the group with 505 deaths per 100,000 people. Infant mortality in recent years was also highest in the U.S. while life expectancy was lowest when compared to these same nations.

Nearly 60 indicators of health show Americans with the poorest results. For example, the obesity of Americans is nearly twice that of other nations studied. Childhood obesity is recorded at approximately 35 percent for both boys and girls. The nation leads in instances of diabetes, chronic lung disease, arthritis, and deaths from violence and car accidents. Adolescent pregnancies and teen STD infections are highest in the U.S.

There are many possibilities for these poor results in spite of high spending. One of the most significant issues may be the large number of uninsured individuals in the nation. A lack of access to care or an inability to afford care can lead to poor health. Social conditions and the economy also play an important role in these issues. Health behaviors are at the root of many of the problems. Additionally, the reliance on automobiles tends to lower activity levels while affecting health.

America's Health Disadvantage
Source: via BusinessInsider

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