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A snapshot of Americans: We're living longer, if not always in the best of health

February 17, 2010 | 11:46 am

America Our life expectancy is increasing, but that doesn't mean we're necessarily taking care of ourselves. We've gotten the upper hand on some infectious diseases, but new ones keep emerging. And our healthcare costs are rising, but expense be hanged -- we really like MRIs and CT scans. Such are some of the points made in "Health, United States, 2009," a report as comprehensive as its name implies. (It doesn't need to be catchy.)

Offered up annually to the president, the Congress and, what the heck, other Americans by the Department of Health and Human Services, the report released today is a statistical overview of national health trends.

This year, the report includes a focus on medical technology. Before launching into the statistics, that portion states that sure, such advances are great -- with use of the aforementioned MRIs and CT/PET scans tripling in just over a decade.

"Questions remain, however, about how much innovation and improvement in new and existing technologies is possible when resources are constrained and health care expenditures are rising to unacceptable levels, about the opportunity costs of using one technology versus another (or neither), and whether target populations are appropriately and equitably served."

Among the report's general highlights is information on life expectancy, disabilities, fertility, use of medical services, the need for medical services, smoking, sleeping habits, expenditures ... you get the idea.

To explore the report by highlights, topics, charts, tables, whatever, start here. If you like statistics, you'll be pleased. 

If you prefer a more narrative distillation, go straight to the report itself.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Associated Press