Other Nations Still Top U.S. in Life Expectancy
Rising obesity rate contributing to relatively low life expectancy.
By David Pittman, MedPage Today
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WASHINGTON — SUNDAY, Aug. 19, 2012 (MedPage Today) —Although Americans are living longer than before, their life expectancies still lag behind those of other countries, a government report found.
For example, Japanese women age 65 could expect to live 3.7 years longer than American women of the same age, while Japanese men age 65 live 1.3 years longer than U.S. men, according to the report, which was issued Thursday by the National Institute on Aging.
The report, "Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being," tracks trends in those older than 65 in categories ranging from health to housing to economics.
The report also found that obesity rates continued to rise, and the condition persists as a major cause of premature death for older people. In 2009 to 2010, 38 percent of people 65 and older were obese. That's up from 1988 to 1994, when 22 percent were obese.
Other findings included:
- Death rates for heart disease and stroke declined by nearly 50 percent since 1981, but chronic lower respiratory disease increased by 57 percent.
- Hospice care use in the final 30 days of life jumped to 43 percent in 2009 from 19 percent in 1999.
- More older people are dying at home (24 percent in 2009 versus 15 percent in 1999) rather than in hospitals (32 percent in 2009 versus 49 percent in 1999).
- Women reported higher levels of arthritis than men (56 percent versus 45 percent, respectively), while men reported higher levels of heart disease (37 percent versus 26 percent).
In addition, more Americans 65 and older are enrolling in health maintenance organizations and other Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, and they also are spending more money out-of-pocket on healthcare, the report found. In 2009, 28 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in an MA program, up from 16 percent in 2005.
Out-of-pocket spending for health care services among the poor and near-poor elderly increased to 22 percent of income in 2009 — up from 12 percent three decades ago.
"However, average healthcare costs did not increase further between 2006 and 2008, after adjusting for inflation," according to the study.
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