Sunday, July 11, 2010

Life Expectancy And Health Care in Chihuahua State: How Does it Compare With New Mexico? Are We Getting Our Money's Worth in the US?

The Mexican statistical institute, or census bureau, INEGI, estimates that life expectancy at birth in the state of Chihuahua has increased four years in the past ten years, up to 76 years of age. This compares with New Mexico's life expectancy of 77 and U.S. life expectancy of about 78.2 years. In that last four years, life expectancy in the U.S. increased an estimated six months, from 77.7 to 78.2 years.

In spite of vastly more resources spent on health care in the U.S., there is only one year's difference between the two states. At the current rate of improvement Chihuahua will catch up to New Mexico next year.

Mexico ranks 85th among nations on health care expenditures as a percentage of GDP (6.1%), according to the World Health Organization, while the U.S. ranks first (15.2%). This translates to $7538 per capita for the U.S. compared to $852 in Mexico, almost nine times as much (OECD figures for 2008). In both Mexico and the U.S. public support for health care is about 45% of the total, the rest taken up by employer plans and other forms of privately acquired care.

Incidentally, New Mexico ranks 48th among states in per capita expenditures on health care. Are you really surprised at this low standing? Number one is, you guessed it, Washington, D.C., which spends almost twice as much per capita on health care than New Mexico, followed by Massachusetts, where former Governor Romney claims he got more health care for more people for less money, and where, indeed, life expectancy is a more than a year greater than New Mexico, at 78.4 years. And in Texas, life expectancy is lower than in New Mexico, at 76.7 years, only about six months more than in Chihuahua, in spite of spending more per capita than in New Mexico (just barely more). And in Arizona, where per capita health care expenditures are lower than New Mexico (Arizona ranks 50th), life expectancy is a full six months more than in New Mexico.

So after spending nine times more on health care for every man, woman, and child, New Mexicans are only expected to live one year more than residents of our sister state of Chihuahua.

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