This has got to be embarrassing. On ThinkProgress yesterday, Zaid Jilani wrote:
Costa Rica’s system of universal coverage is so effective that it actually ranks one slot above the United States in the World Health Organization’s ranking of health systems worldwide while actually spending less per capita than we do.
When you click on that second link, it takes you to a table titled: “Health Statistics > Spending > Per person (most recent) by country”. That “most recent” is very reassuring. Till you scroll down to the very bottom of the very long table and see this: “Spending per capita (PPP) in $US 1998.”
So how did I beat ThinkProgress‘s statistics by a good nine years? By the thoroughly unorthodox expedient of googling “per capita healthcare costs by country”. The infoplease link I used comes up as the first hit.
How might one come up with the 1998 statistics? If you add the phrase “most recent” to the search terms (within quotes), the ancient table shows up on the first page, as item #6. The little google blurb accompanying the link reads “May 17, 2005 … Search for: health care spending per capita; money a person spends on … Health Statistics > Spending > Per person (most recent) by country …”
So if you went by that “May 17, 2005″ (which presumably refers to the date nationmaster.com put the table up on their site), and never actually looked at the table to see which year the numbers are from — which is not exactly from the best practices handbook — you could easily put yourself in the position of having to wipe egg off your face.