RAND Corporation: America spends more on health care than any other nation in the world. Yet from birth to old age, Americans live shorter, sicker lives than people in most other wealthy countries.
A two-year research project at RAND adds some weight to a theory that might explain why. It found better health outcomes in countries that spend more on social safety-net programs like child care subsidies or old-age benefits—even when they spend less on hospital stays and medical tests.
Health care alone, in other words, can only go so far to promote health. Evidence has been accumulating for years that where and how people live plays at least as important a role in how well, and how long.