Population health

How healthy are Americans relative to other countries?


The United States consistently underperforms on important health outcomes when compared to other nations, specifically mid- to high-income countries that are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD):

  • Life expectancy: 78.8 years (U.S.) vs. 81.7 years (OECD) – a three-year difference
  • Obesity: 38.2% (U.S.) vs. 19.5% (OECD) – obesity directly or indirectly causes diabetes, heart disease, strokes, cancer, and joint problems.
  • Drug-related deaths: The U.S. accounts for 25% of the estimated number of drug-related deaths worldwide (52,404 annually). Overdose deaths have increased 11.4% in the past year alone. More people die of opioid-related deaths than from traffic accidents or violence each year.

The complex chart below offers more detailed data broken down by country for those especially interested:




What are health differences like within the United States?


Population health differs across communities:

  • Education level matters. Life expectancy is a decade shorter for people who do not have a high school degree compared with those who have completed college.
Some differences can be linked to social factors that impact health and to the historic disinvestment in certain racial and ethnic groups.




How does poor population health translate into higher health care costs for everyone?


  • Chronic diseases, which can benefit from lower cost preventive care, are responsible for 7 of every 10 deaths among Americans each year and account for 75% of the nation’s health spending.
  • Lost productivity, sick days, and added medical expenses, costs employers $576 billion annually.
Information on why population health matters can be found in Narrative: Caring for all of us - population health (coming soon) Updated 6/1/2018





© 2019 by Making Health Care Fair.