If the U.S., as skirmishers in our health-insurance wars like to boast, has the best medical care in the world, what is the actual state of our health?

A thoughtful public-health expert tells us what we don't want to hear: the nation's health is fairly good but should be better, and the failings are mostly not medical. Public health depends more on private behavior--boring, heard-it-before considerations of how much we eat, drink, smoke and exercise-- than on whether somebody in a lab coat squints at a test tube and sees microbes turning up their toes. ``We need to realize,'' says...

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