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The Connection between Income and Longevity is Highly Apparent if you have Money you Live Longer



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Life expectancy refers to the average number of years of life remaining for people who have attained a given age. This has been increasing year-on-year in the US for many years; however, those with a higher income have made the greatest overall life expectancy gains.

Research undertaken by Dr. Gopal K. Singh at the Department of Health and Human Services between 1980 and 1982 showed that members of the most affluent middle to higher income groups could expect to live almost three years longer than their poorer counterparts. By 2000, that gap had increased to almost four and a half years. The results of a 2008 research by Dr Singh, undertaken during the G.W Bush administration, indicated that no significant improvements took place between 2003 and 2008, despite strenuous efforts by the Federal Government. Numerous theories abound concerning the reasons for the lack of improvement; however, there are some common threads of thoughts which currently exist.

Technological advancements in diagnostic techniques have come along in leaps and bounds in their ability to diagnose diseases such as cancer and heart disease, on which the more affluent and better educated have been able to capitalize. They tend to have ready access to the Internet and are more likely to take advantage of new diagnostic developments. Other factors include the anti-smoking advertisements campaigns which has shown a greater take-up rate amongst the more affluent members of society and as a result high rates of decline in associated diseases amongst this group has taken place. This trend was confirmed in a research undertaken by Dr. Ellen R. Meade in 1980 to 1990, which showed that the greatest gain in life expectancy occurred in the more highly educated group and was as a direct consequence of the change in their smoking habits. Those with higher levels of income and education have a greater propensity to seek out information, challenge aspects of their treatment and adhere to given instruction regarding their treatment.

Poor people tend to live in areas that are less safe where they are more likely to be victims of physical attacks. They are also more likely to engage in more risky practices, pay less attention to the type and quality of food they eat and live in less healthy home environments. There is also a tendency amongst the poor to not have health insurance; therefore they are less likely to have regular health checks and health screening or have ready access to prescription drugs. HIV and Aids are ten times higher amongst African Americans than Caucasians, whilst African American children with asthma are four times more likely to be hospitalized than white children.

How race impacts on the quality of health care received by US citizens is an important factor which should be considered. Researchers found that African America patients are discriminated against in that they receive less aggressive health care than their white counterparts. They are also given less information, because they are considered to be ‘less appropriate candidates‘ for certain types of surgery and medical treatments. Heart attack victims with higher levels of education are much more likely to receive cardiac rehabilitative care, which lower the risk of future attacks, whilst those with a higher education and more money were more likely to receive screening for colon cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

All of the above strongly suggests that if Americans are poor, black (even where they are well-educated) and unfortunate enough to live in the US, they can fully expect to receive sub-standard levels of health care than their more affluent and well-educated counterparts.

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