The Worst Health Outcomes in the First World

01.10.13 3:12 PM ET

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Americans often say they have the best health care on earth.

Maybe. But they also have the worst health results of any developed country. A New York Times report today underscores just how bad:

Younger Americans die earlier and live in poorer health than their counterparts in other developed countries, with far higher rates of death from guns, car accidents and drug addiction, according to a new analysis of health and longevity in the United States. … Deaths before age 50 accounted for about two-thirds of the difference in life expectancy between males in the United States and their counterparts in 16 other developed countries, and about one-third of the difference for females.

What's killing younger Americans?

Guns. Drugs. Car crashes. A health care system that spends lavishly on people over 65, while scrimping on the young. Altogether, the life expectancy of Americans under age 50 ranks at the bottom of the advanced world.

And no, in case you're wondering, it's not just poor people and minorities lowering the averages and making the rest of us look bad.

[E]ven the people most likely to be healthy, like college-educated Americans and those with high incomes, fare worse on many health indicators.

This is a very important story, and I'll have more to say about it later today.