Despite spending more on health care than any other nation, the United States has a lower average life expectancy and higher avoidable mortality — deaths that could have been prevented with appropriate health care — than other middle- and high-income countries. In this post, we compare individual states and the District of Columbia to peer countries on these two health system measures. We find that regardless of where they live, Americans are more likely to die earlier than people in many other countries. And they’re more likely to die from factors that could have been prevented with the right care provided at the right time.
Policymakers use life expectancy to gain a better understanding of the overall health of their country. Among all countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), life expectancy in 2019 was highest in Japan (84.4 years), Spain (84.0), and Switzerland (84.0). Average life expectancy for a newborn in the U.S. was 78.8 years, well below neighboring Canada (82.3 years) and nearly all other high-income countries. These rates don’t reflect the impact of COVID-19, which has significantly reduced life expectancy in the U.S. and other countries.