Sunday, January 28, 2007

Wellness, longevity take varied paths in U.S., Cuba

U.S. healthcare costs more than Cuba's and may not have an edge in helping people live longer, but Cubans often lack prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies.

The average Cuban lives slightly longer than the average American, but the American's healthcare costs $5,711 a year while the Cuban's costs $251.

Those are the figures of the World Health Organization. Some experts question the accuracy of the Cuban numbers, but no one doubts the underlying revelation: There is little relationship between the cost of your healthcare and how long you'll live.

''Medical care is responsible for only a small portion of the variation in life expectancy,'' says Gerard Anderson, a Johns Hopkins professor specializing in health policy. ``Behavioral factors such as diet and exercise are much more important. The U.S., which spends much more than any other industrialized country on healthcare, is getting little value for much of the spending.''

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