Politicians like to tell us that America has the best health care in the world. This patriotic sentiment runs counter to innumerable studies that show Americans spend more on health care but don't get better health in return.
The latest example is a report published Tuesday by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, two entities that are part of the prestigious National Academies. The title sort of says it all: "U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health."
The United States is among the wealthiest nations in the world, but it is far from the healthiest. Although life expectancy and survival rates in the United States have improved dramatically over the past century, Americans live shorter lives and experience more injuries and illnesses than people in other high-income countries.
The report compares the U.S. to 16 other rich countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. To those who know, the results aren't surprising. But they are unsettling: Life expectancy is worse in the U.S. than in most of those nations; the infant mortality rate is the worst; car crashes, violence and injuries kill Americans at a faster clip than people elsewhere; obesity and diabetes are bigger problems in the U.S. And so on.