John Steward of Jesus
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"News" or Spin?


This is nothing new.

For what it's worth, I'm recording the latest example I've read of reporting with a spin. The large headline on page A8 of the newspaper I read this morning says, "Feds will pay half of medical costs in decade".

Within that report are these consecutive paragraphs, related to the years 2004-2014:

Officials said that overall, the growth in health costs was expected to remain stable at around 7 percent per year over that period. But the portion borne by the government will rise due to the Medicare drug benefit that starts next year.

This year, 76 percent of all drug spending - a projected $223.5 billion - is expected to come from private health insurance and out-of-pocket copayments. That privately paid portion will fall to 59 percent next year...

Did you notice the examples of spin?

One is the use of "stable" in describing the growth of health costs. The rate will be "stable" at 7 percent. That means costs are expected to continue going up at 7 percent per year, which means that in ten years they will be double what they are now.  But the label implanted in readers' minds regarding these costs which are doubling every ten years is that somehow something about them is "stable".

Another I noticed is that the privately paid portion of drug spending seems to include only that which comes from "private health insurance and out-of-pocket copayments".
"Copayments" are those made as partial payment to complete the amount after insurance pays for some of the cost. The assumption seems to be that complete out-of-pocket payment for drugs has disappeared from statistical significance. I doubt that is so. If it is, it is further evidence of the dramatic changes which have occurred.

As I said, this is nothing new. Is is one of innumerable daily examples of spin. Almost all of them seem to support the establishment line.

One can only wonder when and whether sorting it all out is worth the effort. Which is probably why greater numbers of people have simply turned off the "news".