Health Care Matters: Pharmaceuticals, Obesity, and the Quality of Life

Why do some countries have better records for life expectancy and lower rates of disability than other countries? In Health Care Matters, Richard D. Miller Jr. and H. E. Frech III shed new light on this question. This pioneering study shows how health outcomes are affected by the consumption of pharmaceuticals and other health care services as well as several lifestyle factors such as tobacco and alcohol consumption, and obesity. The findings demonstrate that pharmaceutical consumption is more powerful in improving the quality of life than in simply increasing life expectancy. The authors also find that the productivity of pharmaceutical consumption varies greatly by cause of death and by age. For individuals under seventy, pharmaceutical consumption is very helpful in lowering circulatory disease mortality but has little effect on mortality due to either cancer or respiratory disease. At later ages, pharmaceutical consumption is generally productive. Health Care Matters is one of the first studies to use the newly available World Health Organization (WHO) disability-adjusted life expectancy (DALE) data, new international data on obesity, and new data on specific diseases.