The United States spent $16.24 trillion in health care for its 314 million citizens in 2012, according to the World Bank. With spending that high, researchers are growing increasingly interested in how effective those dollars are at combating disease and elongating life spans.

A new study reveals that men receive more benefits per health dollar spent than women. 

The research, conducted by researchers at Canada’s McGill University, found that in the United States, every $100 spent resulted in a 0.7 month increase in life expectancy for men compared to a 0.04 increase for women. The United States ranked 25th among 27 industrialized nations in reducing deaths in women. The study also found money spent on health in the United States is less effective than in other nations.

The U.S. fell far behind Canada when it came to improving longevity through health spending. In Canada, an added $100 in health spending for men resulted in a 2.56-month increase in life expectancy for men and a 1.26-month increase for women. Government spending on health includes such programs as preventive medicine, family planning, nutrition initiatives, and emergency aid.

Researchers weren’t sure why men’s health responds more readily to spending than women’s. 

In personal health care spending, women tend to outspend men, according to research published in Health Affairs. In 2004, women spent 32% more than males per capita, mostly because of maternity care. Among the elderly, women paid more for health care because they live longer, on average.  

The McGill research comes on the heels of 2010 research by the Commonwealth Fund revealing that gains in U.S. life expectancies have fallen short of those in other industrialized nations, despite increased spending. In that study, researchers blamed a flawed health care system that overly relies on specialty care and doesn’t regulate fee-for-service care, which drives up costs.

Why do you think men’s health responds more readily to spending than women’s?

Image by Yasin Hassan via Flickr


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