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Americans Spend The Most On Health Care But Lag Behind In Life Expectancy

Japan has the longest life expectancy.

When it comes to bang for your buck, Americans really get a raw deal in regards to health care. A recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the United States ranked 27th in life expectancy among 35 industrialized nations, even though the U.S. spends the most per capita ($ 9,892) on health care.


Among the countries studied, Japan is the 15th highest spending country per capita ($4,519), but has the best life expectancy at 83.9 years.

A big reason for the high mortality rate in the United States, is that it’s the most obese country out of the OECD, and has the most in drug-related deaths. Americans also have the ninth highest likelihood of premature death due to cardiovascular disease and cancer, and the fourth highest infant mortality rate of the nations studied.

Photo by Vic/Flickr.

Although the U.S. has a host of health problems, our self-image remains intact. The study found that 88% of Americans believe they’re in good to very good health, while only 35% of the Japanese — who had the highest life expectancy in the study — say the same.

One reason the U.S. has egregious per-capita health care expenditures, is the cost of pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs. According to The Commonwealth Fund, drug prices are high due to a lack of price controls, confounded by the fact that many Americans have no health insurance, and if they do, it may still lack adequate prescription-drug benefits.

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