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February 27, 2013

The US Health Disadvantage Relative to Other High-Income Countries: Findings From a National Research Council/Institute of Medicine Report

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Family Medicine and Center on Human Needs, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (Dr Woolf); and Center on Labor, Human Services and Population, Urban Institute, Washington, DC (Ms Aron).

JAMA. 2013;309(8):771-772. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.91

The United States spends more on health care than does any other country, but its health outcomes are generally worse than those of other wealthy nations. People in the United States experience higher rates of disease and injury and die earlier than people in other high-income countries. Although this health disadvantage has been increasing for decades, its scale is only now becoming more apparent.

A new report1 from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (NRC/IOM) documents that US males and females in almost all age groups—up to age 75 years—have shorter life expectancies than their counterparts in 16 other wealthy, developed nations: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The scope of the US health disadvantage is pervasive and involves more than life expectancy: the United States ranks at or near the bottom in both prevalence and mortality for multiple diseases, risk factors, and injuries.

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