Putting the United State healthcare in international context

Just when you thought reports highlighting the US healthcare system could not be more damning, a new report emerges showing that “Americans die sooner and experience higher rates of disease and injury than people in other high-income countries”.

Good morning America, this is your healthcare system.

The report, released yesterday, can be found here. Summaries of this report are popping up everywhere online. Here is a brief summary:

“The report is the first comprehensive look at multiple diseases, injuries, and behaviors across the entire life span, comparing the United States with 16 peer nations — affluent democracies that include Australia, Canada, Japan, and many western European countries.  Among these countries, the U.S. is at or near the bottom in nine key areas of health: infant mortality and low birth weight; injuries and homicides; teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections; prevalence of HIV and AIDS; drug-related deaths; obesity and diabetes; heart disease; chronic lung disease; and disability.”

While the report focuses on a specific population, Americans under 50, the results are still striking. And make no mistake, this age is important. Consider that the “difference in male life expectancy between the U.S. and other countries is due to deaths in that under-50 age category, and one-third of the gap is due to deaths among women under 50″.

What do these reports mean for our healthcare system? How can these reports be used to transform what is so obviously broken?

Unfortunately, as history has shown, not much. This is where we, the community, come in. These reports cannot fall on deaf ears anymore. We have striking evidence right in front of us that we are not doing the best job in this country with our healthcare. In fact, as this report shows, when compared to the rest of the world we do downright poor.

While this website has been relatively quiet recently, each of us remains committed to seeing change happen in healthcare. We see it as our job to make sure reports like this are seen and heard.

If you have a few minutes today, take a quick read through the report. Share it with your friends. Bring the topic up with your providers. Think through what we can do with reports like this.

As the report concludes:

“The report recommends an intensified effort to pursue established national health objectives.  It calls for a comprehensive outreach campaign to alert the American public about the U.S. health disadvantage and to stimulate a national discussion about its implications.  In parallel, it recommends data collection and research to better understand the factors responsible for the U.S. disadvantage and potential solutions, including lessons that can be learned from other countries.”

Let’s have this national discussion; let’s all move towards change.

Dr. Miller has his doctorate in clinical psychology and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine where he is the Director of the Office of Integrated Healthcare Research and Policy. His core task is to integrate mental health across all three of the department’s core mission areas: clinical, education, and research. Opinions expressed here are his own and not those of his employer.

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