PolitiFact accurate but misleading on Sanders’s claim of U.S. spending twice as much

Christian K. Lee

Posted by Don McCanne MD on Tuesday, Aug 18, 2015
This entry is from Dr. McCanne's Quote of the Day, a daily health policy update on the single-payer health care reform movement. The QotD is archived on PNHP's website.

   Photo by Christian K. Lee

Photo by Christian K. Lee

Bernie Sanders repeats flawed claim about U.S. health care spending compared to other countries

by Will Cabaniss
PolitiFact, August 16, 2015

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is on a campaign for “Medicare for all” — or at least something like it.

Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont who identifies as a socialist, told NBC’s Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd to look at how much the country spends compared to the rest of the world as a reason for a single-payer system.

“We spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as do the people of any other country,” Sanders said.

It’s a striking claim, and one we heard from Sanders six years ago.

We rated the claim False then, and it’s still wrong now.

We looked at data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), widely cited by experts as an authoritative source for this information.

In 2007, the United States led the world in health care spending at $7,167 per capita, according to the OECD. Norway and Switzerland followed at $4,579 and $4,568, respectively.

The United States maintained its spending lead in the years that followed. But Sanders puts the difference too strongly when he says U.S. spending is “almost twice” per capita of “any other country.”