Inadequate health care lowers life expectancy

The Dec. 28 editorial on the drop in U.S. life expectancy in 2016 was interesting but would have been more enlightening if it had included information on where we rank in comparison with the other countries of the world. According to the World Health Organization, in 2015 we were number 31. Citizens of Slovenia, Cyprus, Chile and Costa Rica live longer, and Cuba was right below us, by a fraction. The United Nations’ averages for 2010-2015 list us at No. 43, right after Lebanon.

There are many reasons for this dismal showing, but most boil down to our failure to provide adequate health care for all citizens, including those who are addicted to drugs.

And, unfortunately, that is apparently about to get worse as Congress is planning to pay for the deficits caused by the tax bill it just passed — which gives major tax breaks to the wealthy — by cutting back on funding for Medicaid and Medicare. As these are the programs that help the poor, the ill, the disabled and the elderly; they affect those most in need and who are, as a result, those most likely to die.

Beverly Bartlett