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Greater health spending helps men more than women

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FRIDAY, Jan. 3, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Increased health spending in developed countries tends to benefit men more than women, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed data from 27 developed nations to determine the efficiency of health care spending, and found that men had greater gains in life expectancy than women in nearly every country.

"We were surprised to find a large gender gap in spending efficiency throughout the industrialized countries of the world," study author Douglas Barthold, a doctoral candidate in the economics department at McGill University in Montreal, said in a university news release. "The average life expectancy of women rose from 75.5 to 79.8 between 1991 and 2007, while that of men rose from 72.5 to 77.1."

The improvement for men had a much stronger association with health expenditures, Barthold said. In Canada, he noted, a $100 increase in health expenditures was associated with a 1.26-month increase in life expectancy for women, compared to a 2.56-month increase for men.

In the United States, a $100 increase in spending was associated with a 0.04 month increase in life expectancy for women, compared to a 0.70 month increase for men, according to the study published online recently in the American Journal of Public Health.

In terms of overall efficiency of health care spending, the United States ranked 22.

"Out of the 27 industrialized nations we studied, the United States ranks 25th when it comes to reducing women's deaths. The country's efficiency of investments in reducing men's deaths is only slightly better -- ranking 18 out of 27," study senior author Dr. Jody Heymann, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in the news release.

It's not clear why increased health spending has benefited men more than women in most of the countries included in the study, the investigators said. They called for further research into the issue.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians explains how to maintain your health.

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