Monday, July 16, 2007

Journamalism at CNN

CNN has a running quarrel with Michael Moore about Dr Sanjay Gupta's fact checking of Sicko for CNN. One point is clear, Dr Gupta claimed that Moore understated health care spending per capita in Cuba claiming it was only $25 while it is, in fact, over $200. CNN concedes that Dr Gupta was totally shamefully wrong about what Sicko claimed, since Sicko actually reported that per capital health care spending in Cuba was $251 not $25.

One might imagine that they would apologize and try to move on, but there are still arguing. pullbackthecurtain at DailyKos fact checks the fact checking noting that this is the only point where Dr. Gupta claimed Moore made a factual error. The rest was Nit Picklering, that is presenting facts which do not contradict claims in the film but support the other conclusion. That it is possible to make a case for the defense does not mean that Moore fudged the facts as claimed by Gupta. Furthermore Dr. Gupta made a very strong claim with no supporting documentation -- that the USA is number one in patient satisfaction.

Pullbackthecurtain is devastating. I would like to add one little point. Dr Gupta claims that people in other developed countries pay more for health care via taxes, that is that their more complete public health care system doesn't come at no cost as they spend more public money on health care. This is false. Public spending on health care in the USA is higher than in almost any other country.

That is, even though only about half of total US spending is public and the vast majority of other rich countries' spending is public, the public part is huge in the USA.

See page 7 of this pdf file

In 2000 the US public spending on health care as a fraction of GDP was 6.5% higher than the G-7 average of 6.4%. At purchasing power parity US GDP per capita is considerably higher than that of any other G-7 country (and other country but Luxembourg in fact) so the US spends considerably more per capita than the G-7 average. Also US health care spending has increased extraordinarily much in the past 7 years and the public share has increased in the US (and can't increase much in other rich countries).

So, in the US aside from private health insurance US citizens pay more via taxes than people almost anywhere else including many countries with longer life expectancy. This is hard to believe but it is also true.

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