News / Health

Studies: Americans Sicker than Citizens of Other Developed Countries

Studies: Americans Sicker Than Citizens of Other Developed Countriesi
X
December 20, 2013 6:15 AM
Americans have the most expensive health care system in the world, although they don't have the most efficient one. Additionally, they don't get the most for their money. That's the assessment of two studies of U.S. health care. VOA's Carol Pearson looks at where the money goes and what researchers say about how to fix it.
Studies: Americans Sicker Than Citizens of Other Developed Countries
Carol Pearson
Americans have the most expensive health care system in the world, although they don't have the most efficient one. Additionally, they don't get the most for their money. That's the assessment of two recent studies of health care in the U.S. Now, researchers paying more attention to where the money goes and what changes can be made to improve health care.
 
U.S. health care costs have doubled in the last 30 years, but Americans are not necessarily healthier than they were in the 1980's. Hamilton Moses analyzed the changes and trends and published his findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
 
“All of our information comes from publicly available sources. That’s a very important point. This is freely available information, although the challenge was to compile it in a way that was interpretable,” said Moses.
 
The researchers found Americans spent between $2.5 trillion and $3 trillion dollars on health care in 2011, more than any other developed country. The report highlights two major factors that are driving up costs. 
 
The first is that the price of medical and administrative services has gone up, along with the cost of drugs, procedures and devices.
 
Moses says Americans' love of technology is part of the problem.
 
"The U.S. has a technology bias. We have a technology preference. We look to technology for the solution of all problems,” explained Moses.
 
The second factor is simple to identify, but more complex to address. Poor lifestyle habits, such smoking and over-eating, have resulted in epidemic levels of obesity and diabetes as well as heart disease, joint pain and lung diseases.  Managing chronic disease is expensive.
 
“We have not invested heavily in chronic care management or for that matter in health care service innovation nearly to the degree that we have in medical technology,” said Moses.
 
Many of these diseases can be prevented though exercise, diet and maintaining a healthy weight, yet in the U.S. prevention has not historically been part of medical care. Consulting with a nutritionist, either by phone or in person, or participating in wellness activities can be expensive, and those services are not normally covered by health insurance.
 
“The overall amount of spending that occurs with people who have chronic illness is about 85 percent of the total,” said Moses.
 
Moses' research shows that those who spend the most on chronic disease are not elderly, and that their investment in care does not guarantee a long life. 
 
Meanwhile, a new report from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development shows that the U.S. spends between 250% to 300% of what other member nations spend. Despite that, the United States trails other developed countries in life expectancy, coming in at 26th place out of the 36 members of the organization.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs