We've been so conditioned by corporate conservative propaganda that we don’t even think twice about being the only industrialized country in the world that doesn't provide its citizens with health care coverage. It’s a source of pride for Republicans.Moments later while doing a little research, I came across this Washington Post story about a new report that tied in with my original thought above:
We also take for granted our lack of paid sick leave. Another unique U.S. bragging point. Think about that. It’s really jaw dropping, cruel, and insanely ridiculous.
In a 404-page report released last week by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, Americans lead shorter lives than Western Europeans, Australians, Japanese and Canadians. Of the 17 countries measured, the US placed dead last in life expectancy, even though we lead the planet in the amount we spend on health care (17.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2010 vs. 11.6 percent each for France and Germany).
“Americans are more likely to find their health care inaccessible or unaffordable,” it concludes.
But a funny thing happens to Americans’ life expectancy when they age. The U.S. mortality rate is the highest of the 17 nations until Americans hit 50 and the second-highest until they hit 70. Then our mortality ranking precipitously shifts: By the time American seniors hit 80, they have some of the longest life expectancies in the world.
They leave behind the private provision of medical coverage, forsake the genius of the market and avail themselves of universal medical insurance. For the first time, they are beneficiaries of the same kind of social policy that their counterparts in other lands enjoy. And presto, change-o: Their life expectancy catches up with and eventually surpasses those of the French, Germans, Britons and Canadians.
This puts defenders of the U.S. system of private health insurance in a bit of a bind.
The big question raised by the data in this study is how Americans have allowed themselves to sink to the bottom. What’s truly exceptional about America, it turns out, is the indifference we show to our compatriots, the absence of the kind of national solidarity more evident in the nations that surpass us on all these lists.
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