The Atlantic had a great article on the recent report on life expectancy in America. There is some good news and some bad news. Young Americans are dying at a faster rate. Elderly Americans are extending their life expectancy.
A pair of new studies suggest Americans are sicker than people in other developed countries. The studies suggest so-called “despair deaths”—alcoholism, drugs, and suicide—are a big part of the problem, but so is obesity, poverty, and social isolation. Deaths from unintentional injuries, including drug overdoses, are up, rising by 10,000 since 2014 which can partly be explained by the epidemic of heroin and prescription-painkiller abuse.
American life expectancy fell by one-tenth of a year since 2014, from 78.9 to 78.8, according to a report released last week by the National Center for Health Statistics. Meanwhile, the number of years people are expected to live at 65 remained unchanged, suggesting people are falling ill and dying young.Heart disease and cancer were the most common causes, accounting for nearly half of all deaths. Still, cancer deaths are declining, while deaths from all other causes, including heart and lung diseases, strokes, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and suicides have ticked up.Much of the increase in mortality can be explained by obesity. However, poverty and its associated struggles, such as depression, stress, and poor nutrition, are also clearly playing a role. Americans are hit harder than other rich countries are by these forces, because of lack of preventive health care and because “the U.S. has higher income inequality and less comprehensive social safety net, so the ill-effects of poverty may take an undo toll.”
One paper published this month suggested that Americans would live nearly four years longer if the U.S. had a safety net as generous as those of European countries. Nationally, better health-care access could improve mortality rates. But if Obamacare is repealed, 30 million Americans might lose their health insurance coverage as early as January—unless, of course, Trump can create a better plan.