Nov 7, 2023 - Health

U.S. health outcomes worse than OECD nations on most measures

Data: OECD Health at a Glance 2023 report; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. performs worse than the average developed nation on 77% of health status indicators like life expectancy, obesity and opioid mortality rate, according to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report.

Why it matters: U.S. health spending as a share of gross domestic product yet again far outpaces the other 37 OECD nations while the country continues to have poor outcomes, the OECD Health at a Glance 2023 report shows.

By the numbers: The U.S. ranks 33 out of 38 OECD countries for average life expectancy, after recording one of the largest decreases between 2019 and 2021.

  • The U.S. opioid mortality rate is 223 per 1 million people compared to the OECD average of 30 per 1 million. The obesity rate in the U.S. is 43% compared to an average of 26% in OECD countries.
  • One bright spot: The U.S. smoking rate is below the OECD average. However, the vaping rate is above average.
  • U.S. health care spending as a percentage of GDP remained roughly flat compared with last year at 16.6%. That's 80% higher than the OECD average of 9.2%.
  • Unlike the U.S., most OECD countries have universal or near-universal health care.
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