Gains Made, but U.S. Still Lags in Life Expectancy

Gains Made, but U.S. Still Lags in Life Expectancy

[Med Page Today]

Americans are living longer, but that longevity includes more aches, pains, and disability compared with comparably wealthy nations, a study of population health in 34 countries found.

The overall life expectancy in the U.S. increased from 75 to 78 years during the period of 1990 to 2010, but with an increase in expected years lost to disability (9.4 to 10.1 years), according to Christopher Murray, MD, DPhil, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Compared with other countries, the U.S. dropped in its rankings in terms of life expectancy at birth (going from No. 20 to No. 27), life years lost to premature death (moving from 23rd to 28th), healthy life expectancy (jumping from 14th on the list to 26th), and age-standardized death rate (18th to 27th) between 1990 and 2010, they wrote in the study published in the July 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Despite a level of health expenditures that would have seemed unthinkable a generation ago, the health of the U.S. population has improved only gradually and has fallen behind the pace of progress in many other wealthy nations,” Harvey Fineberg, MD, PhD, president of the Institute of Medicine, wrote in an accompanying editorial.

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