The report by the Commonwealth Fund found in a ranking of 16 high-income, industrialized nations, the United States came in last in deaths that could have been prevented if effective healthcare was available.
The study, published online ahead of print in the November issue of Health Policy, found other nations lowered their preventable death rates an average of 31 percent from 1997/1998 to 2006/2907, while the U.S. rate declined only 20 percent, from 120 to 96 per 100,000.
Ellen Nolte of the Rand Corp. in Europe and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analyzed deaths that occurred before age 75 from causes such as treatable cancer, diabetes, childhood infections/respiratory diseases and complications from surgeries.
The researchers found an average 41 percent drop in death rates from ischemic heart disease was the primary driver of declining preventable deaths.
Nolte and McKee estimated that if the United States could improve its preventable death rate to match that of the three best-performing countries -- France, Australia, and Italy -- 84,000 fewer people would have died each year by the end of the period studied.
"We spend far more than any of the comparison countries -- up to twice as much -- yet are improving less rapidly," said Cathy Schoen, vice president of the Commonwealth Fund in New York.