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U.S. healthcare costs double but Americans live shorter lives

A doctor explains a condition to a patient at the Broward Count Community Heath Center in Florida
A doctor explains a condition to a patient at the Broward Count Community Heath Center in Florida
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

American life expectancies lag behind those of similarly advanced countries at least according to the recognized record keepers at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Americans live an average of 78.6 years according to latest reports and rank 28th shortest life spans of 34 member countries. Similar countries, like our close cousins in Canada and the UK live longer. Canadians live an average of 81.6 years. Citizens of the United Kingdom live on average 81 years. Only citizens of Turkey, Mexico, and a few countries that once fell into the orbit of the former Soviet Union die sooner than Americans on average. Citizens of Japan and Iceland top the list as over 83 expected years of life.

Conversely, Americans spend right at 17 percent of the value of all goods and services produced. Runner up Holland spends only 11.3 percent of its GDP. The OECD average percent spent on health care 9.3 percent of GDP. Israelis spend only 7.3 percent of GDP on health while their citizens live the eighth longest of all countries at 81.8 years.

On a dollar for dollar basis (adjusted for price parity) Americans spend $7662 per person on health care compared to an average of $2867 per person across OECD. Canadians spend only $4042 per person. The Brits spend only $3011 person.

All advanced nations except for the United States run their health care systems on variations of three basic models. The Canadian model features private doctors and hospitals while each province acts as the insurer. The German or Bismarck model features regulated insurance companies with private doctors and hospitals. Only the

British model can be described as true socialized medicine.
Readers interested in more detailed information about health between countries can find the details at

The OECD is a consortium of 34 advanced countries which tracks economic and life statistics to offer statistical comparisons and suggestions for improvement between member countries.

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