SHEFFIELD, England, July 11 (UPI) — U.S. income and healthcare inequality contributes to Americans not keeping up with other countries worldwide in life expectancy, British researchers say.

Danny Dorling, a professor of human geography at the University of Sheffield in England, said a more even distribution of wealth — even if the national average were lower — could mean longer lives for everyone in the United States or other countries, the BBC reported.

Dorling was commenting on a U.S. study that found from 2000 to 2007, life expectancies in more than 80 percent of U.S. counties fell against the average of the 10 best nations in the world.

The study author, Dr. Ali Mokdad of the University of Washington in Seattle, said the United States has high rates of poverty and high rates of uninsured lacking access to healthcare, fewer primary care physicians and fewer physicians per person than most developed countries.

However, while poor Americans may lose out from inequality, Dorling argues the rich suffer too.

“Top income groups are badly affected because their doctors are not necessarily mainly interested in their health but work for organizations that have to make an income,” Dorling told the BBC.

“I am not suggesting it is deliberate but you make more money out of a patient who spends more on many drugs and investigatory operations than one who lives longer with less intervention. In a more equal system the rich who are well get less intervention — and they live longer in Britain than the United States.”

Growing income inequality in Britain, since the 1970s, has helped it lag behind other European nations’ life expectancy rankings, Dorling said.

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