CDC Releases 40th Annual National Health Report

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its 40th annual report on the nation’s health, revealing long-term trends in American health care, including life expectancy, birth rates, smoking, insurance coverage, and health-care expenditures. The report also highlighted discrepancies in care and areas for improvement.

Between 1975 and 2015, life expectancy for the total U.S. population increased from 72.6 to 78.8 years, but, in 2015, analysts observed a slight decrease, when life expectancy declined by 0.1 years for the total population. The decrease was slightly higher in women than men (0.2 years and 0.1 years, respectively).

Heart disease was the leading cause of death but decreased by 61 percent from 1975 to 2015: 431.2 deaths per 100,000 people to 168.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

Cancer was the second leading cause of death; again, though, the age-adjusted cancer mortality rate decreased during the 40-year period, from 207.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 1980 to 158.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015.

CDC researchers also noted changes in the share of personal health-care expenditures during the 40-year period, including increases in the use of home health-care services:

  • hospital care decreased from 45.3% to 38.1%
  • home health care increased from 0.5% to 3.3%
  • prescription drugs increased from 7.1% to 11.9%
  • other types of care increased from 10.6% to 13.2%

The authors also observed substantial changes in sources of health insurance over the past four decades: Between 1978 and September 2016 (preliminary data), the percentage of people with Medicaid coverage increased from 11.3 percent to 39.2 percent, and the percentage of those with private coverage decreased from 75.1 percent to 53.5 percent.

The changes in health-care delivery were accompanied by substantial changes in the demographics of the U.S. population, the authors noted. The population is aging, with the number of people ≥65 years growing from 22.6 million to 47.8 million, and the population became more diverse, with 38.4 percent of the population identifying as racial or ethnic minorities in 2015 (compared with 20.1% in 1980).

Source: CDC, “Health, United States, 2016,” June 28, 2017.