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Recently released government research on the health of the American people brought the nation some troubling information — our life expectancy, which many proudly assumed was steadily climbing, is actually declining in many parts of the country.
This was especially true for women, the reports revealed. Women in 180 counties across the country can expect to live 1.3 fewer years than their life expectancy as recently as 1999. That same 1.3-year drop occurred for men, too, but only in 11 counties. Most of the counties that saw the declines, as one would expect, are populated by poor people.
What troubled the researchers was the newness of this phenomenon. Americans in all walks of life have experienced longer life expectancies for the past several decades. From 1969 to 1999, for example, life expectancy for men increased steadily from 66.9 years to 74.1, and for women it rose from 73.5 years to 79.6.
Interestingly, while our life expectancies continued to climb, we were never higher than 11th best in the world. And now, we’ve dropped to an unremarkable 42nd.
The reality in America, where more than 47 million citizens are without health care coverage, is that the poor and now even a substantial number of middle-class folks don’t get the health care they need when they need it.