In Amenable Mortality—deaths Avoidable Through Health Care—progress in the US Lags That of Three European Countries

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 31, no. 9, Sep. 2012, p. 2114-2122

Posted on RAND.org on August 01, 2012

by Ellen Nolte, Martin McKee

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We examined trends and patterns of amenable mortality—deaths that should not occur in the presence of timely and effective health care—in the United States compared to those in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom between 1999 and 2007. Americans under age sixty-five during this period had elevated rates of amenable mortality compared to their peers in Europe. For Americans over age sixty-five, declines in amenable mortality slowed relative to their peers in Europe. Overall, amenable mortality rates among men from 1999 to 2007 fell by only 18.5 percent in the United States compared to 36.9 percent in the United Kingdom. Among women, the rates fell by 17.5 percent and 31.9 percent, respectively. Although US men and women had the lowest mortality from treatable cancers among the four countries, deaths from circulatory conditions—chiefly cerebrovascular disease and hypertension—were the main reason amenable death rates remained relatively high in the United States. These findings strengthen the case for reforms that will enable all Americans to receive timely and effective health care.

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