The regular increases in healthcare costs for U.S. residents have resulted in an increased life expectancy, according to a study published on Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers calculated the average changes in healthcare costs and life expectancy for various age groups in each decade since 1960. They used data on healthcare costs from federal surveys and information on life expectancy from Centers for Disease Control. U.S. residents born in 1960 have an average life expectancy of 70 years, compared with 77 years for those born in 2000. About 3.5 of the years of increased life expectancy are due to improvements in healthcare, according to the study. Improved treatments for heart attack and other cardiovascular disease accounted for 70 percent of the increased life expectancy, and improved care for newborns accounted for 19 percent. According to the study, after adjustment for inflation, each year of increased life expectancy cost about $19,900. The study found that the cost of each year of increased life expectancy increased from $7,400 in the 1970s to $36,300 in the 1990s.