Considering the wealth of the United States and how much money the country spends on health care, a study "commissioned by the National Institutes of Health" has determined that "on average, Americans experience higher rates of disease and injury and die sooner than people in other high-income countries."
American men ranked last in life expectancy among the 17 countries and American women ranked next to last. The United States also ranked at or near the bottom in nine areas, including heart disease, chronic lung disease, obesity and diabetes, injuries and homicides, and sexually transmitted diseases. "We were struck by the gravity of these findings," said the panel chairman, Dr. Steven Woolf, a professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University. "What concerns our panel is why, for decades, we have been slipping behind."
Likely explanations include a large uninsured population and more limited access to primary care, two problems that should be mitigated by the health care reforms that will kick in next year; higher levels of poverty and income inequality in this country; weaker safety net programs; sedentary lifestyles and obesity; higher rates of drug abuse and traffic accidents that involve alcohol; and greater use of firearms in acts of violence.
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