A new policy brief from The Commonwealth Foundation has found that the United States spends nearly twice what other wealthy countries spend on health care, but has the lowest life expectancy and highest sucide rate.
The researchers pulled data collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and used it to compare American health care spending, outcomes, risk factors and quality to 10 other wealthy countries, including Australia, Germany, Norway and Canada.
They found that among the 11 peer countries, the U.S. has the highest chronic disease burden and obesity rate. The U.S. also had the highest suicide rate and the lowest life expectancy, as well as the highest number of hospitalizations from preventative causes -- despite spending nearly twice what other wealthy countries spend on health care.
Within the U.S., West Virginia has the highest incidence of chronic disease and is tied with Mississippi for the highest obesity rate.
However, the U.S. did do better than average on preventative measures, such as breast cancer screenings and flu shots.
In an analysis of the data, the authors recommend policy makers focus first on reducing health care costs. And then on better ways to manage chronic conditions, including reducing barriers to care.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from Marshall Health and Charleston Area Medical Center.