Drop in life expectancy in the U.S. a Reflection of the American health system

According to David Blumenthal of the Commonwealth Fund, Americans are dying younger which is a reflection of the failure of the American health system. 

Blumenthal notes that while it is easy to blame the nation’s opioid epidemic, the abysmal new life expectancy data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the data for what they are — an indictment of the American health care system.

According to the CDC, the average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. fell by 0.1 years, to 78.6, in 2016, following a similar drop in 2015. This is the first time in 50 years that life expectancy has fallen for two years running. In 25 other developed countries, life expectancy in 2015 averaged 81.8 years.

Blumenthal further notes that the epidemic of drug abuse and overdose deaths has not affected other developed countries the way it has ours. With 4 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. accounts for 27 percent of the world’s overdose deaths. The European Union, with a population of 507 million, reported 6,800 overdose deaths in 2014, compared to 47,055 in the U.S. That disparity exists even though many other developed countries have faced even greater economic challenges than we have. In 2016, France and Spain had unemployment rates of 10.1 and 19.6 percent, respectively, compared to 4.9 percent in the U.S.