Since the U.S. is one of the richest nations in the world, Americans are expected to live longer. However, longevity is not necessarily proportional to income and the U.S. ranks only 28th in a recent life expectancy survey.
The survey, conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Develastlopment (OECD), reveals that despite the exorbitant expenses in the U.S. health care system, quality care is less emphasized in comparison with less developed nations. It scores well on cancer-treatment but insufficient in primary care for other ailments.
Regardless of infrequent doctor visits and shorter hospital admissions, the average cost of an American on health care is $7,900 per year, that's two-and-a-half times more than any OECD country.
It even spends twice as much as France, which has a good healthcare service system. Switzerland, which is on par with the U.S in terms of income and private insurance, spends 62 percent less on treatment.
The OECD ranks U.S. at 28th with a life expectancy of 78.2 years, well below the average of 79.5 years among member nations. Even Chile and Greece surge ahead with higher rankings.
Studies show that the U.S. is gaining an average of only 8.3 years compared to the 11.2-year OECD average in the half century. Owing to many dangers posed by accidents, violence and environment hazards, premature mortality statistics rank the country fourth from the bottom.
The country with the highest life expectancy is Japan.
So what explains the poor performance?
Higher standards of living don't always translate to better health. The U.S. faces a shortage of family doctors and a high intervention rate. Prolonged treatments and expensive diagnostics are provided which prove unnecessary. Delivery procedures, mainly cesarean, are performed at nearly twice the rates as in Germany.
OECD has reported particularly high rates for ambulatory care, pharmaceuticals, and Public Health and Administration.
Mark Pearson, head of the OECD health division, attributes the higher prices to lack of an effective government mechanism that acts to keep prices down.
That's simply not there in the U.S. system. So it's a structural defect, he said.
In 2010, healthcare reforms were introduced for cost control, medical coverage, income equality and incentives among medical professionals. The bill still faces constitutional challenges with repeals from Republican presidential candidates.