While longevity is generally increasing throughout the United States, there are many areas of the country where life expectancies are decreasing.
“Life expectancy in many places in this country is declining. It’s going backward instead of forward,” said Ali Mokdad to the Washington Post, a co-author of the report and a professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. “These disparities are widening, so this gap is increasing.”
Some of the reasons for the decline are not surprising: poverty, poor exercise but also poor access to healthcare.
While the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare, expanded Medicaid for many Americans, a 2012 ruling by the Supreme Court made the expansion of Medicare essentially a political decision left to the individual states. Due to this ruling, many poor Americans still lack access to affordable healthcare since their local governments have chosen not to expand Medicaid.
Of the ten counties where life expectancy has dropped the most since 1980, eight are in Kentucky, two are in Alabama.