A new report states that thanks to healthier lifestyles and higher incomes, life expectancy in The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries has actually increased by over 10 years. Better education and health care policies also drive life expectancy, but Americans spend the most for health.
Higher Life Expectancy Rates
The "Health at a Glance 2017" has been released, and data shows that life expectancy in all 35 OECD countries has increased by over 10 years since the year 1970, with an average of 80. 6 years. At the forefront of this increase is Japan with a life expectancy rate at birth of 83.9 years. Closely following are Spain and Switzerland with 83 years.
On the other hand, Latvia had the lowest life expectancy rate of 74.6 years, and Mexico with 75. Turkey, Chile, and Korea had the largest gains since 1970.
Health Spending Not Equal To Higher Life Expectancy
According to the report, healthy lifestyle, higher income, better education, and better health care all contributed to the rise of life expectancy. Women also tend to live five years longer than men, while individuals with tertiary education live six years longer than those with lower levels of education. What's more, the report states that slashing alcohol consumption and smoking rates by half could increase life expectancy by 13 months, while a 10 percent increase in health spending could potentially add 3.5 months.
However, spending more money on health does not necessarily equate to higher life expectancy. For instance, people in the United States spend more on health per capita with little increase in life expectancy. In fact, health spending in the United States is double the average OECD health spending.
Improvements In Health Care
Improvements in health care were characterized by patients' reporting of positive experiences with their doctors and the falling rates of hospital admissions for chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma. What's more, fewer deaths from heart attack and stroke are being reported, particularly among stroke patients in Australia and heart attack patients in Finland. The survival rate for breast cancer in OECD countries is also high at 85 percent.
That said, the report states that improvements on health care must still be made, especially with regard to patient access. The coverage for a core set of health services is at 95 percent or higher in most OECD countries but for seven, the lowest coming from Poland, Greece, and the United States. What's more, waiting times for surgery, particularly in Estonia, Chile, and Poland, are still pretty long, while cost concerns prompt about 10 percent of people to forgo medical consultations and 7 percent do not purchase prescribed medication.
As such, sufficient funding and materials for health care, as well as wise spending of said resources are necessary to a functioning health care system.