KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

U.S. Lags Behind Industrialized Countries On Preventable Deaths

The United States lags behind other wealthy countries on "preventable deaths," those caused by illnesses and injuries that should not kill at an early age, and it has been falling further behind over the past decade. The Washington Post reports: "Although the United States now spends $2.4 trillion a year on medical care -- vastly more per capita than comparable countries -- the nation ranks near the bottom on premature deaths caused by illnesses such as diabetes, epilepsy, stroke, influenza, ulcers and pneumonia, according to research by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund published in the journal Health Affairs."

"During last week's marathon health-care debate in the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) bemoaned the findings. ... Some lawmakers theorized that the rate could be related to trauma from guns and automobiles." Connolly writes although those fatality rates are higher in the U.S. than most wealthy nations, "the statistics underscore more complex, fundamental challenges," according to "physicians, economists and other experts who track health-care systems across the world" (Connolly, 10/6).

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