Canadians live longer, healthier than Americans: study

NEW YORK Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:01pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Canadians live about three years longer and are healthier than Americans, and the lack of universal healthcare in the United States may be a factor, researchers said on Wednesday.

In a study published in BioMed Central's journal Population Health Metrics they said Canadians can expect to live until 79.7 years of age, versus 77.2 years for Americans.

A healthy 19-year-old Canadian can expect to have 52 more years of perfect health versus 49.3 more years for Americans.

"Canada and the U.S. share a common border and enjoy very similar standards of living, yet life expectancy in Canada is higher than in the U.S.," said David Feeny, of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, and a co-author of the study.

"There are two distinct potential explanations for the gap: differences in access to health care and in the prevalence of poverty."

Canadians have a universal healthcare service, which is free at the point of care, whereas Americans' access to health insurance is usually based on employment, income through Medicaid, or age through Medicare, and not universal, according to the study.

Healthcare expenditures also have been higher in the United States than in Canada since the 1970s.

The findings are based on telephone interviews of 8,688 white Canadians and Americans, to account for the impact of slavery and racial discrimination on health.

The interviews were conducted in 2002 and 2003 during the first joint survey by Statistics Canada and the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics to provide fully comparable data.

"This data was very high quality, consistent and comparable," Feeny said.

Researchers may try to conduct another survey to update new developments in light of the recent healthcare reform measures in the United States, he added.

(Reporting by Walden Siew; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

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Comments (2)
paid_hack wrote:
As a Canadian, I wish health and happiness to my American neighbours. What is sad about this story is that the Canadian health care system can be characterized as mediocre at best. I suspect that this survey averages over the two distributions of heath care in the US; better than mediocre medical care for the wealthy and less than mediocre medical care for the less affluent.
The health care system in Canada is a huge source of national pride. We had our own battles to get it enacted and we must remain vigilant to defend it. Is it perfect? No. Are there problems? Sure. However, on average it may be better than yours.
Maybe one day the US will have a public option for every citizen. In the spirit of liberty, maybe the wealth can opt out to a parallel private system.
Bon courage with your health reform struggle. In the words of another great revolution “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite”, or is it “Let them eat cake”?

Apr 29, 2010 11:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
JohnZNYC wrote:
How does a survey of whites only determine the life expectancy in both countries? I recently saw a news report on ABC where Asians and Latin Americans on average in the U.S. live longer than whites. The report said it also had less to do with access to health care as it did to education and discrimination.

Apr 29, 2010 5:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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