The Reliability Of Our Medical Knowledge As A Product of Industry Relationships

Comparing Americans’ life expectancy and medical expenditures to those of the other industrialized countries hardly leads to the conclusion that we receive the best medical care in the world. Far from it. But the argument is legitimately made that Americans receive more medical treatments and procedures—like joint replacements, cataract surgeries, cardiac procedures, and the like—that improve our quality but not necessarily the length of our lives. To promote more meaningful comparisons between citizens of different countries, the World Health Organization created a more dimensional index of overall health known as Healthy Adjusted Life Expectancy (“HALE”). Calculated as the average number of healthy years of life experienced by each nation’s sample population, this index represents the number of years that a country’s citizens can expect to live in good health. For example, if a citizen of one nation lives to be eighty-six, but has chronic renal failure for the last six years of life, compromising his quality of life by fifty percent, then his years of healthy life would be eighty-six minus half of six, or eighty-three.

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