National Research Council

John Galt Kills Americans

The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine yesterday released the results of a study addressing mortality in the United States as compared to other developed nations. The full report can be purchased here, where a summary also can be downloaded as a free pdf file. The press release on the study frames the questions addressed:

On average, Americans die sooner and experience higher rates of disease and injury than people in other high-income countries, says a new report from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.  The report finds that this health disadvantage exists at all ages from birth to age 75 and that even advantaged Americans — those who have health insurance, college educations, higher incomes, and healthy behaviors — appear to be sicker than their peers in other rich nations.

“We were struck by the gravity of these findings,” said Steven H. Woolf, professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and chair of the panel that wrote the report.  “Americans are dying and suffering at rates that we know are unnecessary because people in other high-income countries are living longer lives and enjoying better health.  What concerns our panel is why, for decades, we have been slipping behind.”

From the summary, we have this long explanation of the causes of high US mortality, where I have added emphasis:

The panel’s inquiry found multiple likely explanations for the U.S. health disadvantage:

• Health systems. Unlike its peer countries, the United States has a relatively large uninsured population and more limited access to primary care. Americans are more likely to find their health care inaccessible or unaffordable and to report lapses in the quality and safety of care outside of hospitals.

• Health behaviors. Although Americans are currently less likely to smoke and may drink alcohol less heavily than people in peer countries, they consume the most calories per person, have higher rates of drug abuse, are less likely to use seat belts, are involved in more traffic accidents that involve alcohol, and are more likely to use firearms in acts of violence.

• Social and economic conditions. Although the income of Americans is higher on average than in other countries, the United States also has higher levels of poverty (especially child poverty) and income inequality and lower rates of social mobility. Other countries are outpacing the United States in the education of young people, which also affects health. And Americans benefit less from safety net programs that can buffer the negative health effects of poverty and other social disadvantages.

• Physical environments. U.S. communities and the built environment are more likely than those in peer countries to be designed around automobiles, and this may discourage physical activity and contribute to obesity.

No single factor can fully explain the U.S. health disadvantage. Deficiencies in the health care system may worsen illnesses and increase deaths from certain diseases, but they cannot explain the nation’s higher rates of traffic accidents or violence. Similarly, although individual behaviors are clearly important, they do not explain why Americans who do not smoke or are not overweight also appear to have higher rates of disease than similar groups in peer countries.

More likely, the U.S. health disadvantage has multiple causes and involves some combination of inadequate health care, unhealthy behaviors, adverse economic and social conditions, and environmental factors, as well as public policies and social values that shape those conditions.

What stands out to me is that the list of reasons Americans die early overlaps significantly with the social goals of right-wing libertarians who worship Ayn Rand and John Galt. Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz A great polygrapher is hard to find; Volume #6,392
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bmaz @OKnox You state teh obvious. Have you anything else, laddie?
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emptywheel @ggreenwald @headhntr It'd be really awesome if you guys encouraged people to do USAF warrant canaries in advance of that.
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bmaz @OKnox @DLind In one small measure of fairness, I think Costello might have been able to play guitar a touch better than Tom Petty at first.
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emptywheel @joshgerstein <head desk>
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bmaz @OKnox Listen here, that dude played guitar worse than I did at the time, and I completely SUCKED!
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bmaz @DLind Call em as I see em. Or, in this case, saw them.
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bmaz Where in @ScottGreenfield blows some hot truth on journalistic nimrods cackling about "tough" DOJ hammer on Cleveland http://t.co/Ip4yMLyiSe
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bmaz I saw him not long after debut of his first album. He couldn't play guitar better than an inert mannequin could. https://t.co/oecTG4sYno
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JimWhiteGNV NBD. Just a hovercraft going by. http://t.co/C1zCDI1Xh8
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emptywheel @ddayen A very good question. I'm not even sure I have a hotel room, much less swank dinner reservations. @bmaz
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emptywheel .@AllThingsHLS Surely you're not suggesting the FBI is held to a higher standard of competence than the Senate?
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