Progressives like to point out that Americans pay more for health care yet have poorer outcomes than people in countries of similar wealth.
New life expectancy data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seems to indicate that things are getting only worse. Between 2020 and 2021, American life expectancy decreased 0.9 years. That follows a drop of 1.8 years in 2020.
But there are many factors that influence our longevity more than the health care system does. In fact, much of the decline in life expectancy has little to do with our health care system.
Life expectancy has gone down in most countries, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an Oxford University study of 29 well-off countries, 27 saw a fall in life expectancy in 2020.
But the coronavirus alone doesn’t fully explain the U.S. decline. New CDC research attributes it mostly to two factors, the pandemic as well as “unintentional injuries.”
Sixteen percent of the decline in life expectancy between 2020 and 2021 was a function of an increase in accidents and unintentional injuries.
The age-adjusted death rate for unintentional injuries increased nearly 17% between 2019 and 2020.
Fatal car crashes increased by 6.8% from 2019 to 2020, resulting in nearly 40,000 lives lost — the highest number since 2007, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Drugs are claiming more lives too. Drug overdose deaths from April 2020 to April 2021 reached 100,306 — a 28.5% increase from the prior period. In the 12 months ending March 2022, overdose deaths surpassed 109,000.