Dismal U.S. Life Expectancy Trend Reflects Disconnect Between Dollars Spent On Healthcare And Value Produced

Long before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, there were signs of structural inefficiencies and comparatively mediocre outcomes in the U.S. healthcare system. Most worrisome was the fact that decades of ever-rising healthcare expenditures haven’t led to a concomitant improvement in value, measured in terms of mortality and morbidity outcomes.

In recent years U.S. deaths from Alzheimer’s, diabetes, suicides, stroke, and even heart and lung diseases have been rising at alarming rates. Furthermore, deaths from unintentional injuries, including drug and alcohol overdoses, have soared.

With the exception of a very small (0.08%) increase in 2019, life expectancy in the U.S. has been falling since 2014, as the figure below shows. And prior to 2014, for several decades, the slope of the life expectancy curve was relatively flat. This is a trend not seen in any other Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nation.

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