Monday, November 14, 2022

This is a fascinating chart

Here is a chart of how much a country spends - per person - on healthcare versus the average life expectancy. I am also going to put some of there comments on this page, and I will add some notes in blue that I think.

Charted: Healthcare Spending and Life Expectancy, by Country

Over the last century, life expectancy at birth has more than doubled across the globe, largely thanks to innovations and discoveries in various medical fields around sanitation, vaccines, and preventative healthcare.

Yet, while the average life expectancy for humans has increased significantly on a global scale, there’s still a noticeable gap in average life expectancies between different countries.

What’s the explanation for this divide? According to World Bank data compiled by Truman Du, it may be partially related to the amount of money a country spends on its healthcare.

More Spending Generally Means More Years

The latest available data from the World Bank includes both the healthcare spending per capita of 178 different countries and their average life expectancy.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the analysis found that countries that spent more on healthcare tended to have higher average life expectancies up until reaching the 80-year mark.

However, there were a few slight exceptions. For instance, while the United States has the largest spending of any country included in the dataset, its average life expectancy of 77 years is lower than many other countries that spend far less per capita.

What’s going on in the United States? While there are several intermingling factors at play, some researchers believe a big contributor is the country’s higher infant mortality rate, along with its higher relative rate of violence among young adults.

I would posit another 2 reasons. 

First: Our health care is geared towards profit, not towards health. Saving lives might be a great side effect, but the real purpose of any hospital and most doctors is to make money.

Second: Racism. Now I HATE to call out racism here because it makes me sound "woke" or "politically correct". But in this case it is based here on actual numbers from the US Government:

Here are the official numbers. Here are some highlights:

Black birth mortality 2.3 x higher than whites.
Black pre-natal care is only 80% of whites.

By limiting pre-natal care to only people that can afford it, we screw poorer people. And that translates to lower life expectancy. Overall (as you see) American's life expectancy is 77 years. For people born white, it is 78 years. For people born Black, life expectancy is 71.8 years. This was pre-Covid. It has only gotten worse.

On the other end of the spectrum, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea have the highest life expectancies on the list despite their relatively low spending per capita.

It’s worth mentioning that this wasn’t always the case—in the 1960s, Japan’s life expectancy was actually the lowest among the G7 countries, and South Korea’s was below 60 years, making it one of the top 30 countries by improved life expectancy:


  1. The chart and their comments certainly support what progressive candidates have been reporting and the changes in our medical system they advocate. It's a bit off topic, but I would like to see how much of the expenditures are out-of-pocket vs. insurance payments and/or government programs, e.g. Medicaid.

  2. Lynnie, that is a fascinating idea to check. Much of the "costs" might already be born by the federal government - at an inflated rate. And insurance "bills" are regularly paid out at a reduced rate. I'll check.


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