November 1, 2019

The state of America's health, in 7 charts

Daily Briefing

    The United States has seen decreases in life expectancy and increases in obesity and drug overdose rates, as well as steadily increasing overall health care costs, according to a new report from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics that spotlights the state of health in the country.

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    The health of America

    Life expectancy

    The report found that overall average life expectancy at birth decreased in 2017, to 78.6 years from 78.7 years in 2016.

    However, while the overall decline was first recorded in 2017, life expectancy among men has been falling over the past four years, declining from 76.5 years in 2014 to 76.1 in 2017. Meanwhile, the life expectancy rate among women has remained fairly stable, sitting at 81.1 years since 2015, after falling from 81.3 in 2014.

    But while life expectancy has decreased slightly, as the prevalence of some of the leading causes of death have decreased. For example, the rate of deaths due to heart disease has decreased from 196.1 per 100,000 in 2007 to 165 per 100,000 in 2017.

    Similarly, the rate of deaths due to cancer has decreased from 179.3 per 100,000 in 2007 to 152.5 per 100,000 in 2017.

    Drug overdose deaths

    By contrast, deaths due to drug overdose have increased significantly. From 2007 to 2009, the age-adjusted drug overdose death rate was 11.9 per 100,000. By 2017, that rate had increased to 21.7 per 100,000.

    Drug overdose deaths have especially increased among men, rising from 14.9 per 100,000 in 2007 to 29.1 per 100,000 in 2017. Drug overdose deaths increased among women as well but remained lower than among men. Drug overdose deaths among women increased from 8.8 per 100,000 in 2007 to 14.4 per 100,000 in 2017.

    Teen birth rate

    CDC also found that the teen birth rate in 2017 reached an all-time low of 18.8 live births per 1,000 females aged 15-19, down from 41.5 live births per 1,000 in 2007.

    Vaping and tobacco use

    Among adults, tobacco use has continued to decrease, with just 14.1% of adults 18 and over smoking cigarettes in 2017 compared to 19.7% in 2007.

    However, tobacco use in the past 30 days among adolescents in grades 9-12 has increased from 19.6% in 2017 to 27.1% in 2018. Rates of e-cigarette usage among adolescents has especially skyrocketed, from 1.5% in 2011 to 20.8% in 2018.

    Obesity rates have also increased, among both adults and children, CDC found. In 2015-2016, 18.5% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years were obese compared to 13.9% in 1999-2000. Similarly, in 2015-2016, 39.7% of adults aged 20 and older were obese compared to 30.5% in 1999-2000.

    Health care expenditures

    Overall health care expenditures have increased significantly over the past decade, CDC found. In 2017, personal health care expenditures totaled $2.96 trillion, compared with $1.92 trillion in 2007.

    Cost as a barrier to care

    However, the percentage of the population delaying or not receiving needed medical care due to cost has decreased over the past decade, CDC found.

    In 2007, 20.8% of people with annual incomes below 100% of the federal poverty line (FPL) delayed or did not receive needed medical care due to cost. That percentage dropped to 16.2% in 2017.

    (CDC report, October 2019; Owens, "Vitals," Axios, 10/30).

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