Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Do Gaps In Wealth And Healthcare Impact A Nation's Health?

Almost 50 million people in the US lack healthcare coverage, another 30 million are underinsured.

Source: The Commonwealth Fund

It's not hard to imagine that those with inadequate coverage suffer more disability and die earlier than those with coverage. Maybe they don't get skin lesions and chest pains checked out and managed before they become a crisis. Maybe a life-saving intervention, a cancer therapy or surgery, is not within their means.

This is why it's not a good idea to generalize results of a study from a country such as Norway, where there is a universal public healthcare system, to a country such as the US, where there is not. The authors of a Norwegian study that found elevated cholesterol was "harmless" said:
"Norway is an affluent country, and Norwegians are currently one of the longest lived people in the world. The rate of smoking among men is relatively low, by international comparison. The stable social structure could also play a part, including a well-functioning health care system with good access and coverage for all."
Norwegians are relatively wealthy, healthy, and have good health care. This could attenuate negative effects of elevated cholesterol.

Americans, on the other hand, have a wide and growing wealth and healthcare coverage gap, which has likely contributed to:
"Of 17 high-income countries studied by the National Institutes of Health in 2013, the United States was at or near the bottom in infant mortality, heart and lung disease, sexually transmitted infections, adolescent pregnancies, injuries, homicides, and rates of disability. Together, such issues place the U.S. at the bottom of the list for life expectancy."
This video shows with clarity the wealth gap in the US:


1 comment:

Angela and Melinda said...

Norwegians are also very physically active out-of-doors. Maybe that helps too? Dunno.