Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Poor Access To Healthcare = Lower Life Expectancy

I've been reading Dr. Allen Power's blog (part of the ChangingAging group of blogs). Here's his bio. I don't know Dr. Allen, but he has some compassionate things to say about the elderly that keeps me reading.

In his last post he mentioned this BBC article that describes the US' poor showing in life expectancy:
" "The researchers suggest that the relatively low life expectancies in the US cannot be explained by the size of the nation, racial diversity, or economics," says the document, which ranks the US 38th in the world for life expectancy overall."
The research at the root of these articles (Falling Behind: Life Expectancy In US Counties From 2000 To 2007 In An International Context, Population Health Metrics, 2011) claims that, besides smoking and obesity, disparities in access to basic healthcare contributes to Americans' low life expectancies. (The research also states that, for the period studied, "the US maintained its position as the country that spent the most per capita on health care.")

So, how do you improve access to basic healthcare? Dr. Power took a stab at that:
"Today’s local paper reports that our Blues want a rate increase of 9 – 19% for their various plans. So much for private health care being more cost effective! We can continue to stick our heads in the sand and protect our broken, privatized system, or we can take steps to seriously address the need for (1) universal health care, and (2) medical care that is driven by outcomes, not dollars."
I agree. Obama shouldn't be offering to raise Medicare eligibility age, he should be offering to lower it.

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