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Real People Dying Unnecessarily

every 5-6 minutes!

(Position at first chart or second)
Real people … who we knew and loved … who died
and are dying unnecessarily in the U.S.,
every 5 minutes (84,300 to 101,000 per year)

CORRECTION: Where the word "diseases" occurs on this web page it should read "causes".

Deaths due to Preventable Causes: Dead Last

As reported January 2008: The ability of the United States to minimize deaths due to PREVENTABLE causes is at rock bottom / dead last. Perhaps more importantly are the days, weeks and months of unnecessary pain and suffering prior to our unnecessary deaths.

September 2011 update: An additional review of the data was reported on September 23, 2011. Sixteen countries were studied. The United States was reported as still on the bottom of the list, whereas the top three were reported as France, Australia and Italy. The estimate of unnecessary deaths in the United States was 84,300, which would be every 6 minutes.


Preventable Diseases: Unnecessary Deaths

Rankings 1st to 19th. France, Japan, Australia, Spain, Italy, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, Austria, Germany, Finland, New Zealand, Denmark, Britain, Ireland, Portugal, United States
See Sources regarding the above figure.


Deaths Due to Preventable Causes:
Bad to Worst for the U.S.

Preventable Diseases: Drop in Performance

As seen above, over a 5 year period the U.S. dropped in performance rank among 19 countries from 15th position to 19th position.
See Sources regarding the above figure.

The Numbers:
Unnecessary Deaths: by year, by day

22,000 / year

60 / day

These persons had no health insurance.

75,000 / year

if U.S. had an average performance

(101,000 lives/year would be saved
if U.S. was a top performer)

205 / day

if U.S. had an average performance

(277 lives/day would be saved
if U.S. was a top performer)

The U.S. is now an incredibly bad 19th out of 19 countries in minimizing the number of deaths due to preventable causes.
The U.S. is dead last!

The above numbers are the counts of real people who died unnecessarily in recent years and the same counts of additional people who are dying today — unnecessarily. As one of the researchers (who calculated the above numbers about preventable causes) said: “ …I wouldn’t say it (the last-place ranking) is a condemnation, because I think health care in the U.S. is pretty good if you have access. But if you don’t, I think that’s the main problem, isn’t it?” (bolding added)(see more in “Sources” below)

Real Problem

  • The larger numbers in pain. The number of unnecessary deaths in the above table are small compared to the much greater number of people every year who are undergoing years of unnecessary pain and suffering from the preventable causes (among the preventable causes of the report) BEFORE they die! Who are “they”? Ourselves, our family, our friends and our neighbors!
  • The unbelievable situation. It is incomprehensible to the majority of people in other countries (and it should be to us!) that the U.S. continues to let this situation of poor performance happen simply because it has not implemented what all other industrialized nations have: non-profit financing of health care, which would get more citizens to the doctor and allow the U.S. excellent potential for its use of preventive medical practices to actually occur. I have seen the quizzical looks on the faces of people from around the world, and I have heard their comments and questions that they expressed to me.
  • Stories about the pain Go to Real Life Stories to read about negative experiences in the United States and positive experiences in other countries. It’s very easy to find examples of each!

Real Solution

  • Top performer. With non-profit financing the U.S. can have a top-performing health care system that will benefit us, our families, our friends and our neighbors. The U.S. will have cost-efficiency regarding health care.
    • Good health. The cost-efficiency provides the foundation which supports everyone going to the doctor to get preventive care, which enhances our health and lengthens our average lifespan. When we are healthier, we feel better. When we feel better, we are a better contributor to our families, friends and our society.
    • Jobs. As an additional benefit, global corporations and U.S. private and governmental organizations are then going to be impressed with the cost-efficiency and be more interested in investing in the United States’ businesses and jobs.
    • Options. Out of the options for non-profit financing, the one called “single-payer” is the best, primarily because it is the simplest. Keep it simple and maximize the benefits while minimizing the costs!
  • The need to act. Please join the Million Letters for Health Care Campaign non-profit single-payer national health insurance.

Further Information

No Health Insurance

  • 22,000/year are dying due to poor access to health care because they have no health insurance.
    • This situation of dying as a result of having no insurance does not exist in any other industrialized country.

Minimizing the Number of Deaths Due to Preventable Causes

  • Study of 19 countries on minimizing the number of preventable deaths:
    • The U.S. ranked 15th out of 19 using 1997-1998 data.
    • The U.S. ranked 19th out of 19 using 2002-2003 data.
      • Rankings from 1st to 19th: France, Japan, Australia, Spain, Italy, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, Austria, Germany, Finland, New Zealand, Denmark, Britain, Ireland, Portugal, United States
    • More details are in “Sources”, below.
    • If the U.S. was only an average performer among the 19 countries:
      • 75,000/year lives per year would be saved, as highlighted in the table above.
    • If the U.S. was a top performer (the average of France, Japan and Australia):
      • 101,000 lives per year under age 75 would be saved (277 per day).
    • Poor health care access in the U.S. was the basis of a comment by one of the researchers in a Reuters interview.

The American Cancer Society Decision

  • The American Cancer Society recognizes the critical need of people getting health care. The organization decided to devote its entire advertising budget to the need for health care access instead of the need for prevention! How can a country prevent the preventable deaths if millions of its people do not have good to the country’s health care!


  • Health Care for All with non-profit single-payer national health insurance is the only solution that maximizes health care access while making a major contribution to minimizing costs. Details are in the rest of Single-Payer Education.
    • Clarification: Multiple Root Causes of Deaths: I’ve seen reports and heard key people, such as the President of the American Cancer Society, state that the deaths are due to the persons having no health insurance. I think that non-profit, single-payer national health insurance is an extremely worthwhile cause. The Unites States needs to have non-profit financing of health care and help get to where more citizens are getting to the doctor for preventive care. However, one must keep in mind other conditions in the United States that lead up to having no health insurance and to having poor health. For example, you might want to ask your local library to purchase a DVD of the seven-part documentary titled “Unnatural Causes: is inequality making us sick?”

The Way to Get Support

  • Join to get reminders to take action according to the Schedule.
  • Know which action to take for your members of the U.S. Congress. Look up the status and the necessary action for your U.S. Representative and your U.S. Senators.
  • Consider whether or not a candidate for the U.S. Congress is a single-payer supporter or not when preparing to vote.

Overlapping Numbers?

The 22,000 is likely an overlap with the higher numbers and additive.



75,000 and 101,000 preventable deaths per year

  • Report
  • As indicated below by the Commonwealth Fund information, 75,000 is the conservative number of persons who die in the U.S. due to the United States failing to do an adequate job at prevention, at least as compared to the 18 other countries.
  • As reported by the Commonwealth Fund
    • “… authors estimated that approximately 75,000 to 101,00 preventable deaths could be averted in the U.S. “[E]ven the more conservative estimate of 75,000 deaths is almost twice the Institute of Medicine’s (lower) estimate of the number of deaths attributable to medical errors in the United States each year,” the authors say.”
  • As also reported by Reuters
    • “ … I wouldn’t say it (the last-place ranking) is a condemnation, because I think health care in the U.S. is pretty good if you have access. But if you don’t, I think that’s the main problem, isn’t it?” (bolding added)
    • ” … the researchers considered deaths before age 75 from numerous causes, including heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, certain bacterial infections and complications of common surgical procedures.”

22,000 deaths per year due to no insurance

Learn More

See: Amenable Mortality.

See Single-Payer Education, including its “Further reading, listening, and viewing”.


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