[Editor’s Note: Al Power guest blogs weekly for Power-Up Fridays.]
According to the BBC News, the US health report card is out, and the results aren’t good. The American Human Development Report was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, Oxfam America and the Conrad Hilton Foundation.
This study found that the world’s richest nation has slipped almost to the bottom of the industrialized countries – 42nd – in overall life expectancy. In the overall “human development” score, which takes into account factors of health, education and income, we slipped to 12th.
Further analysis reveals great disparities in outcomes in different geographic or socio-economic groups. We all know this, but the numbers are startling. The Development Index of people in Mississippi is 30 years behind those in Connecticut. In life expectancy, African-American male life spans were 14 years shorter than Asian-American males. African-American life expectancy today trails what it was for the average American in the 1970s.
We have the highest percentage of children living in poverty, the highest percentage of people in prison and our infant mortality rate continues to rank near the bottom. It was estimated that if our infant mortality rate were equal to #1 Sweden’s, an additional 20,000 babies a year would survive!
So how can the world’s richest nation with the highest health care expenditures do so poorly? I would offer the following contributing factors: (1) Poor access to health care, with 47 million uninsured and an equal number with inadequate coverage, (2) inadequate social capital in the realms of maternity and childcare assistance, nutrition programs, etc., (3) money spent promoting high cost pharmaceuticals and filling the coffers of private insurers, rather than giving good preventive care and treatment to all, and (4) concentrated poverty and worsening recession without any sound economic or social policy.
I know some people are going to decry any suggestion of “socialized” health care. I would just point out that the people in those countries that have it are living longer and better than we Americans, and saving money in the process. Maybe it’s time to stop regarding these systems so dismissively and find out why they are so much better than what we have.
— Al Power