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Aug 30, 2012 by EDITOR
U.S. Performs The Worst on Preventing Disease and Death Compared to Europe


The United States lags three other industrialized nations -- France, Germany, and the United Kingdom -- in its potentially preventable death rate, and in the pace of improvement in preventing deaths that could have been avoided with timely and effective health care, according to a Commonwealth Fund-supported study published as a web first online in Health Affairs.



Between 1999 and 2006/2007, the overall potentially preventable death rate among men ages 0 to 74 dropped by only 18.5 percent in the United States, while the rate declined by nearly 37 percent in the U.K. For women, the rate fell by 17.5 percent in the U.S. but by nearly 32 percent in the U.K.

In "In Amenable Mortality -- Deaths Avoidable Through Health Care -- Progress In the US Lags That of Three European Countries," Ellen Nolte, Director of Health and Healthcare at RAND Europe and Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine analyzed amenable mortality trends. Amenable mortality is a measure of deaths before age 75 that could potentially have been prevented. The research also looked at death rates for those under 65, as well as deaths between ages 65 and 74 from conditions like preventable cancer, diabetes, infections, and heart disease.

Life expectancy is constantly improving but at what cost? Are those added years more likely to be a time of disease and disability? The media loves to report on how our extended lives are an amazing achievement for humankind. And yet there's a paradox: the aging population is widely seen as an impending disaster with many health problems.

France, Germany, and the U.K. all provide affordable, universal coverage to their populations regardless of age and tend to have healthier lifestyles as a whole.

By 2007, the potentially preventable death rate among U.S. men under age 65 was 69 per 100,000, considerably higher than in the U.K. (53), Germany, (50) and France (37). Death rates for men in this age group have declined more rapidly in all three countries since 1999 than in the United States.

Among women under age 65, the potentially preventable death rate dropped from 64 to 56 per 100,000 in the U.S., from 61 to 46 per 100,000 in the U.K., from 49 to 40 per 100,000 in Germany, and from 42 to 34 per 100,000 in France. For both women and men under age 65, U.S. potentially preventable death rates were higher than the other three countries.

"Despite spending about twice as much per person each year on health care as France, Germany or the U.K. -- $8,400 in 2010 -- the U.S. is increasingly falling behind these countries in terms of progress in lowering the potentially preventable death rate," said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis.

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