Did you know that the U.S. ranks 29th in life expectancy even though Americans spend $2.5 trillion annually on medical care, nearly half of all health dollars spent in the world? The League members and friends had an opportunity to learn some of the facts about American healthcare on Tuesday, August 17th when they viewed the PBS documentary Unnatural Causes. In chilling detail the video showed that poor health in the U.S. is often related to poverty and to the wide disparity of incomes between the rich and poor. The wealth of the top 1% of the population in this country is greater than the combined wealth of the bottom 90%. This gap in prosperity is wider here than in any other developed country—and it shows up in healthcare.
Interest in this subject was obvious as a large number of people from the League and from the Older Women’s League (OWL) as well as the San Francisco Political Committee and KQED showed up to view the film and to engage in discussion about the issues. Ellen R. Shaffer, a health activist, led a discussion after the showing and guests raised issues about what we as individuals and groups can do to improve the situation. There were suggestions that California could move ahead and provide more healthcare even though there is not enough support nationally to make the movement country wide. Racism was mentioned as a reason why African-Americans have a higher mortality than whites in this country. An estimated 83,000 preventable African American deaths are attributable to the Black-white mortality gap.
Discussion was lively at the meeting and the wine-and-cheese reception that accompanied it.
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