Elderly couple making aliya 521.
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram; courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh)
Thanks to a more healthful lifestyle, a better economic situation, improved education and a more advanced medical system, the Israeli life expectancy has increased by 10.3 years between 1970-2015 – from 71.8 to 82.1 years.
This has just been made public in “Health at a Glance 2017,” a comparative report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which Israel joined in 2010.
It pays to get a higher education in Israel: Men with bachelor’s degrees lived an average of 7.5 years longer than men with much less formal education, while the gap between more-educated and less-educated women was five years.
The average life expectancy increase in all 35 member countries was 10 years. The highest life expectancy was in Japan – 83.9, followed by Spain and Switzerland at 83 years.
The lowest life expectancies among OECD countries were in Latvia (74.6 years) and Mexico (75).
According to the report, if the rates of smoking and drinking alcohol were 50% lower, life expectancy would have increased by 13 more months.
In addition, a 10% increase in per capita health expenditure in real terms would have increased average life expectancy by 3.5 months. But not only total health expenditure has an impact on life expectancy; it also depends on the way that resources are used. In the US, for example, health expenditure has risen more than in any other country since 1995, but the increase in life expectancy was relatively low.
Health expenditure per capita in the OECD countries increased by 1.4% on average per year since 2009, following the global economic crisis in 2008, compared with 3.6% in the six years prior to 2009. Average per capita expenditure in 2016 reached an average of $4,003 per year.
The expenditure in Israel is lower than $2,822. The highest expenditure among OECD countries was in the US – $9,892 per year, or 17.2% of the gross domestic product, but the average American didn’t get high value for his money.
National expenditure on health as a percentage of the GDP was higher than 11% in Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and France. In Israel, the national expenditure on health was 7.4% of GDP in 2002 (including investments), a stable percentage in the last decade and showing great efficiency in the system.
Reducing waste spending is the key to maximizing the impact of public resources on health outcomes, the report said. Increased use of generic drugs has led to cost savings in most countries, accounting for more than 75% of pharmaceutical sales in the US, Chile, Germany, New Zealand and the UK, but only 25% in Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland and Greece.
There is a very large variance between countries in the provision of antibiotics, which should be administered only for bacterial and not viral infections. In Greece and France the volume of prescriptions for antibiotics is very high relative to the OECD average. In Israel, the use is still relatively high, putting it 13th out of the 31 countries reporting.
Performing surgery in day hospitals, whenever possible, also saves money and reduces infections. In Israel, only 7% of cataract surgery patients were hospitalized overnight.
The report also indicates that the quality of medical care is improving.
More than 80% of OECD patients reported having a positive experience and satisfaction with the doctor, noting that the explanations were structured and that they were involved in decision-making.
In most OECD countries, the decline in smoking rates continues, and efforts to reduce obesity and excessive drinking are improving, but air pollution is still often neglected. Despite the decline in smoking, around one in five adults still smokes every day in most OECD countries. In Israel, 19.6% of those aged 15 and over smoke daily, compared with 19% on average in the OECD.