We’re officially at the bottom of the list. In a ranking of preventable deaths in 19 leading industrialized countries, the US got the worst score. The study tracked deaths that are considered preventable with access to preventive care and timely treatment. If the US were to perform as well as France, Japan, and Australia – the top three countries in the ranking – the study estimates that 101,000 fewer people would die in the US each year.
Health care in the US is good for people who have access to it. But the 47 million Americans without health insurance is a serious problem. These people realistically have very little access to quality health care. Instead, they tend to wait longer to get care and end up in crowded emergency rooms with little or no preventive care history.
France led the study results, with 64.8 deaths considered preventable out of 100,000 people. The US, at the bottom of the list, had 109.7 preventable deaths per 100,000 people. The difference is significant. And we’re headed in the wrong direction. The same study was done 10 years ago, and the US was 15th at the time. Since the previous study, all 19 countries made progress, with an average improvement of 16%. But the US improved its preventable death numbers by only 4% in the same time period. So we’re losing ground in a race where we were already trailing behind.
France and Japan were ranked first and second in both studies. Both countries have universal health insurance. Coincidence? Probably not.
Among other states in the US, Colorado ranks 16th. We can thank a lower population of obese people, low poor physical health days, low rate of cancer deaths, and a low rate of preventable hospitalizations.
The problems Colorado has are due to limited access to preventive care and a large percentage of people without health insurance.