(NaturalNews) The most recent numbers on life expectancy around the world show that life expectancy numbers in the United States are worsening, both in absolute and relative terms - a trend that has been blamed on the large proportion of the population with inadequate health insurance.
"There should no longer be a debate," said Dave Zwiefel, editor emeritus of the Capital Times, in an opinion piece published in the Madison, Wis., newspaper. "Health coverage produces healthier citizens. It's time for the U.S. to stop tinkering around the edges, putting Band-Aids on a broken system, and face reality. We need, no, we deserve, a universal, single-payer health care system - now."
Until recently, life expectancy in the United States was increasing: from 73.5 to 79.6 years for women and from 66.9 years to 74.1 years for men between the years of 1996 and 1999. According to the most recent survey, however, life expectancy for women has fallen 1.3 years since 1999 in 180 counties across the United States. The same drop for men has occurred only in 11 counties.
The majority of the counties with declining life expectancies are poor, highlighting the inequitable nature of health care in the United States. According to an April report from the Congressional budget office, the life expectancy gap between rich and poor in the United States continues to widen.
"In 1980, life expectancy at birth was 2.8 years more for the highest socioeconomic group than for the lowest," the report reads. "By 2000, that gap had risen to 4.5 years."
The United States' worldwide ranking in life expectancy has dropped to 42nd, from its record of 11th.
"The ... reason is one that the defenders of the U.S. health system, if it deserves to be called that, refuse to admit," Zwiefel wrote. "We're letting too many Americans go without adequate health care."
More than 47 million U.S. residents are uninsured, with millions more underinsured.