Shocking news from the US on the 4th of July

That greatest health care system in the world we keep hearing about from Rethuglicans and Tea Partyers ? It’s failing. In particular, it’s failing women and black men :

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation this month published a county-by-county analysis of life expectancy. From 1987 to 1997, there were 227 counties where female life expectancy dropped. From 1997 to 2007, the number of counties where women’s life expectancy dropped exploded to 737.

Comparisons with the rest of the developed world are more appalling. Of the nation’s 3,147 counties, nearly two-thirds — 2,054 — fell further behind life expectancies for women in the 10 longest-living countries. This is despite the United States having the world’s highest per-capita health spending. [] Besides the precarious state of women, life expectancy for black men in two-thirds of the nation’s counties is no better than what it was in other rich countries in the 1950s. The geographical inequality of who lives the longest or least in America is so stark that the maps from the University of Washington study almost perfectly mirror the national maps of obesity and diabetes done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both maps show the Deep South and Appalachia at the epicenter of the nation’s health collapse.

The US has the highest per-capita health costs in the world. It needs to urgently spend more money on preventative health measures, which is something that the big health insurers don’t seem to see as a priority because they can’t make much money with it. It is a shame that poverty, or being female, is still one of the most important risk factors for a shortened life expectancy, and not only in the USA. But over there it seems to be a particularly urgent problem, and as the figures mentioned above show, things over the last 20 years, and especially and in an accelerated fashion in the last 10, have been getting much worse, not better.

The Life Expectancy maps can be found here.

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