Life expectancy in the United States has fallen for the second year in a row due in large part to a combination of drug and alcohol use and suicides. A report from the BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal, shows that life expectancy is 1.5 years lower than other counties in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of 35 nations which includes Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
The largest life expectancy drop was within middle age white Americans and those living in rural communities. These areas “have often struggled for many years with stagnant wages, unemployment, poverty, and the loss of major industries that fueled local economies” says Steven Woolf, co-author of the report. Having to face these longstanding social and economic challenges is fueling these “deaths of despair,” which substance abuse and suicide deaths are sometimes called.
The report finds that the decrease in life expectancy is due to more than just the serious opioid epidemic the country is facing. The unhealthy or risky behaviors Americans are engaging in are also a major contributing factor in the surge of deaths and illnesses. These behaviors, such as high calorie intake and drug abuse, as well as having weaker social welfare supports and lacking universal health insurance, are contributing to rising health care costs, a sicker workforce and a less competitive economy. While the numbers do not show a significant drop, the fact that there is no longer an increase in life expectancy in the United States is alarming researchers.
Care Compass Network (CCN) and Performing Provider Systems (PPS) across New York State, through the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program, are working to support one of our more vulnerable populations. CCN and our partners are working to strengthen current infrastructure while creating an integrated delivery system, that will provide easier access to health care and behavioral health services for the Medicaid population, as well as the general population.
From new programs such as the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program to the Promise Zone to the increasing access to treatment centers, our partners are working to expand access to services/ programs as well as create new and innovative programs that will help improve patient outcomes and improve patient experience and satisfaction.
Care Compass Network also partnered with a market research firm to help conduct surveys that will provide us with a better understanding and insight into what gaps and barriers there are as we work towards creating an integrated network and expanding and strengthening the infrastructure around behavioral health programs.
Source: Drugs, alcohol and suicides contribute to alarming drop in U.S. life expectancy, USA Today – February 8, 2018