U.S. Premature Death Impact Climbs for Third Straight Year

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Analysts at a UnitedHealth Group Inc. foundation have found evidence that U.S. health is moving in the wrong direction: the U.S. premature death rate has risen for the third year in a row.

The premature death measure reflects the number years of potential life lost, before age 75, per 100,000 U.S. residents.

That measure increased to 7,214 per 100,000 U.S. residents in the foundation’s 2017 annual U.S. health rankings report.

The 2017 premature death rate measure has increased from 7,054 in 2016, and from 6,997 in 2015.

The latest figure is the highest the UnitedHealth foundation analysts have recorded since 2012.

(Related: UnitedHealth: Older Americans Face More Health Threats)


The analysts used data from government surveys and other sources to create the report.

The “2017 figures” for the public health measures reflect the latest available survey results. In many cases, the latest numbers are several years old. The premature death rate numbers, for example, come from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2015.

UnitedHealth foundation analysts speculated in 2015 and 2016, when the U.S. death premature rate also rose, that the increase might be mostly due to the opioid epidemic.

The overall U.S. drug death rate has been climbing rapidly most years since at least 2007.

The “drug death rate” reflects the age-adjusted number of deaths due to drug-related injury per 100,000 U.S. residents. The rate has increased to 11.9 in the 2017 foundation report, from 9.7 in 2007.

But the UnitedHealth foundation analysts found that two other major mortality measures also rose.

One of the measures is the cardiovascular death rate. That’s the age-adjusted number of deaths due to all cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, per 100,000 people.

That measure jumped to 254.6 per 100,000 people in 2017, from 251.7 in 2016.

Another measure that spiked is an occupational fatality measure. That’s the number of fatal occupational injuries in construction, manufacturing, trade, transportation, utilities, and professional and business services.

That measure climbed to 4.3 per 100,000 people in 2017, from 3.7 in 2016.

The number of infant deaths before age 1 year held steady at 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The age-adjusted number of cancer deaths per 100,000 people continued to hover around 190 per 100,000 people.

—Read Survey: Nearly 8 in 10 Workers Expect to Retire Past Age 65 on ThinkAdvisor.

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The U.S. age-adjusted mortality rate increased 1.2% between 2014 and 2015.

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