Two Depressing Charts About Life Expectancy In The US

In the United States, the life expectancy for both men and women is now slightly shorter than the OECD average, despite spending the most on health per person, according to a new OECD report, Health at a Glance 2013 [PDF].

Life expectancy in the United States is still going up — it reached 78.7 years in 2011, an increase of almost eight years in the past four decades. But that’s below the average life expectancy of 80.1 years across OECD countries in 2011, which has increased 10 years since 1970.

Health spending has slowed significantly in the United States since 2009, but we still spend 150% more than the OECD average. Higher health spending per capita tends to be associated with lower mortality rates and higher life expectancy — but that’s not the case in the United States.

Instead, our life expectancy is no longer rising as quickly as other countries. That’s likely because the United States is one of the last OECD countries that does not have universal health care coverage — 15% of the population was still uninsured in 2011, although the Affordable Care Act will expand health insurance coverage starting in January 2014.

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