NU Online News Service, Nov. 11, 3:20 p.m. – U.S. residents may be losing more years of life to premature death, according to the 2002 UnitedHealth Foundation State Health Rankings report.

Researchers at Arundel Street Consulting Inc., St. Paul, Minn., compile the state health rankings for the UnitedHealth Foundation, Minnetonka, Minn., by looking at factors such as heart disease, cancer deaths and occupational health.

The foundation is backed by the UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., a large managed care company.

One indicator in the report of interest to commercial life and health insurers is premature death, or years of life lost per 100,000 residents due to death before age 75.

The researchers used 1999 mortality data to calculate the figure in the 2002 report. They say the number of years lost increased by 279 between the 2001 and 2002 reports, to 7,734.

U.S. residents gained 1,261 of years of life before age 75 between 1990 and 2001, but the latest loss wipes out 22% of the increase.

Overall, the UnitedHealth U.S. health score fell 0.9% in 2002, after improving 16.4% between 1990 and 2001, the foundation says.