The life expectancy of the wealthiest Americans, which now exceeds that of the poorest Americans by 10 to 15 years, continues to grow, according to a series of papers published today in The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most respected medical journals. This “survival gap” is a result of America’s fractured, for-profit health system, as well as its rapidly growing economic inequality, racial segregation and mass incarceration, which is unique among industrialized nations, researchers say.
These topics and several others are discussed in a five-paper series in The Lancet called “America: Equity and Equality in Health,” featuring new data and analysis by prominent U.S. health researchers, as well as a special commentary by Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in which he calls for a “Medicare for All” single-payer system.
Dr. David Himmelstein, the lead author of the series, says: “Today, 43 million Americans are poor, and although the Affordable Care Act has nearly halved the number of people without insurance, 29 million Americans, many of them poor or near-poor, remain uninsured. Health inequalities are more entrenched than ever, and rather than address them, the U.S. health care system often exacerbates them. In order to tackle health inequalities in the U.S., it is essential that we move towards a non-market financing system that treats health care as a human right.” Himmelstein is an internist, professor of public health at the City University of New York (CUNY) at Hunter College, lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program.