Friday, November 12, 2010

Amenable Mortality

Now here is a concept for you! "Amenable mortality" was an health analysis term developed in the 1970's to measure the effectiveness of health care systems in developed, industrialized countries especially. Amenable mortality measures the deaths that occur before age 75 that could have been prevented by timely and appropriate medical care, in other words, conditions that were amenable to health care but went untreated.

A study by the Commonwealth Fund showed the following results:

U.S. Ranks Last

Between 1997–98 and 2002–03, amenable mortality fell by an average of 16 percent in all countries except the U.S., where the decline was only 4 percent. In 1997–98, the U.S. ranked 15th out of the 19 countries on this measure—ahead of only Finland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and Ireland—with a rate of 114.7 deaths per 100,000 people. By 2002–03, the U.S. fell to last place, with 109.7 per 100,000. In the leading countries, mortality rates per 100,000 people were 64.8 in France, 71.2 in Japan, and 71.3 in Australia.

The largest reductions in amenable mortality were seen in countries with the highest initial levels, including Portugal, Finland, Ireland, and the U.K, but also in some higher-performing countries, like Australia and Italy. In contrast, the U.S. started from a relatively high level of amenable mortality but experienced smaller reductions.

The U.S. ranks last even though we spent more money per capita that the other countries. In fact, we spend about twice as much as the average of the other countries. It is also important to realize that the other countries all have universal health care coverage, unlike the U.S.

The health care reform plan enacted this year does need to be amended but certainly not undone. It needs to be strengthened if we are to achieve any like comparable results as do the other industrialized countries.

I also note, with some dismay, that in just a little over five years, my mortality won't count, whether amenable or not.

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