US Life Expectancy Not Great


Mark Gongloff of the Huffington Post entitled his editorial The U.S. Health Care System is Terrible, in 1 Enraging Chart.  The chart is above and he goes on to say:

If you’re unconvinced, here is a chart that demonstrates its terribleness. It shows, using OECD data, how much money different countries spend on health care per person, charted against life expectancy in each of those countries. As you can see, there is a pretty close relationship between health-care spending and life expectancy. Except for one very, very terrible country. Can you spot it?

He sure seems emotional about it.  Here are some other points he makes:

  • This confirms what we pretty much already knew about the terribleness of U.S. health care.
  • Why is our system so terrible? Largely because it is built for profit.  Unlike many other countries, the government has no role in either providing care or setting prices, and so prices skyrocket.

Here is how the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) explains their results:

The OECD suggests a few explanations for the lower gains. First, it highlights “the highly fragmented nature of the US health system, with relatively few resources devoted to public health and primary care, and a large share of the population uninsured.” Second, it notes the US has a higher calorie consumption per capita and obesity rates, higher consumption of prescription and illegal drugs, higher deaths from road traffic accidents, and higher homicide rates than many nations. Finally, it suggests socio-economic conditions — in particular a more prominent rich-poor divide than other countries — could be to blame.

It’s not exactly the same explanation.  First, I agree we are fragmented but we devote a ton of money to public health (Medicaid, Medicare).   Second, they point out personal responsibility (calories, drugs, accidents, murders) issues.   Yes!!!!!  That is huge! Lastly, OECD suggest socioeconomic conditions, which could be back to the issue of healthcare not being affordable.

Do you see the difference in explanations?  Mark’s is political but neglects to cover the reasons the OECD itself gives.

This chart looks at life expectancy vs. cost.   We are comprised of mostly overweight or obese people subsisting on crappy food, who rarely exercise and sit in front of computers, TVs or iPhones all day.   Do we have a costly healthcare industry?  Absolutely.  Should that be fixed?  Absolutely.  I disagree with Mark Gongloff on how but it doesn’t matter.  Without that personal responsibility change, it would only move that point on the chart to the left but it wold not move it higher!

Mark has an agenda.   He spreads misinformation to push his agenda and then it goes viral on Facebook, etc.  But facts are important.  People see what they believe instead of believing what they see.  That gets us nowhere.