MSNBC Wrongly Hints UK's NHS Handling COVID-19 Better Than U.S.

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Saturday's AM Joy on MSNBC, host Joy Reid and fellow MSNBC host Ali Velshi pushed for a British-style national health care system during the coronavirus pandemic even though there are reports that the country's National Health Service (NHS) has fared poorly during the current crisis.

In fact, if one crunches the numbers, the overall per capita death rate from COVID-19 has been substantially higher so far in the United Kingdom than in the U.S.

At 10:28 a.m. Eastern, toward the end of the segment, Reid brought up the issue of whether the federal government would help laid off Americans acquire health insurance either through ObamaCare or other means. After the show played a clip of President Donald Trump answering a question on the issue, Reid and Velshi complained about his answer, and then talked up universal health care for the U.S.

Reid referred to her in-laws who live in Britain, and suggested that the U.S. would be better off with a similar system:

JOY REID: You know what my in-laws are doing for health care during this crisis? Going to the doctor because they're in England where they have universal health care! Hello, America! It would be so much easier if we had universal health care. Hello!

Velshi -- who is also a senior business correspondent for NBC News -- agreed: "Yup, so much easier."

But, if one examines the number deaths from COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, the United Kingdom's rate so far is about three times that of the U.S. As of Saturday morning, there were a total of 4,313 deaths officially reported so far, which, in a country of about 68 million, comes to about 6.34 per 100,000 residents dying of the illness.

By contrast, the U.S. death toll on Saturday morning stood at 7,159, or, in a country of 330 million people, about 2.16 deaths per 100,000 residents.

In fact, the total number of deaths caused by COVID-19 in the UK reportedly might be even more than the officially confirmed cases as the country's health care system struggles to cope with the crisis.

The total number of deaths in France stood at 7,560, or 11.63 per 100,000, in a country of 65 million people; and, in hard-hit Italy, the number was 15,362, or 25.60 per 100,000 in a country with a population of about 60 million.

Germany has notably fared better than its neighbors, with total deaths so far standing at 1,275, or 1.54 per 100,000 in a country of 83 million.

Compared to the U.S., that's three times higher in the UK, five times higher in France, and 12 times higher in Italy. In Germany, it's about 72 percent as high as the U.S., putting the U.S. much closer to the relatively well-managed Germany and further from Britain and France.

The New York Times has also contrasted death rates in the region with the U.S. -- presumable number of deaths divided by number of known infections -- and found rates to be 10 percent in France and Britain, in contrast with 2.5 percent in the United Sates and 1.4 percent in Germany.

If one looks at the list of reported COVID-19 deaths in various countries and take note of the more advanced countries with open democracies, the per capita death rate for the U.S. is on the relatively lower end.

So, where Reid and Velshi get the notion that one is better off facing COVID-19 in the UK than in the United States is known only to them.

U.S. in second place in per capita coronavirus tests, more than any country but Italy.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Saturday, April 4, AM Joy on MSNBC:

JOY REID: Let's talk really quickly about health care. This is a thing you talk about a lot. Here is -- a record number of Americans are going to stress state Medicaid programs -- those who've expanded Medicaid and bothered to do it -- but Medicaid programs are going to be stressed. Here's Donald Trump from Thursday, asked how newly laid off people will pay for health insurance. Here it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can you assure Americans tonight that you will open the Obamacare marketplace so that they can be covered at this time of combined health and financial crisis?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, I understand the question. We're doing better than that -- we're going to try and get a cash payment to the people, and we're working out the mechanics of that with legislature, so we're going to try and get them a cash payment because just opening it up doesn't help as much. So we're going to work it out so we're going to try and get for that certain group of people -- it's a certain group of people -- a cash payment.

REID: Ali, are they expecting people to use the same little paltry $1,200 to buy health insurance? This is insane.

ALI VELSHI: No, I mean, $1,200 isn't -- yeah, it isn't going to pay for most people's rent -- it isn't going to pay for most people's groceries -- it isn't going to pay for the child care that they may -- it's not going to pay for that. So the bottom line is, $1,200, even if you had no other expenses, would hardly get you an insurance policy, and they're not reopening open enrollment, so I don't know what the President was saying. That was a bit of a word salad -- "it's going to be better, it's going to be for a specific group of people, we're working with the legislatures to get a cash payment."

I don't know what he's talking about, but the bottom line is, you know how many people forgo health care in the best of times because they don't have the money for it. In a pandemic, you do not want people who say, "I don't want to get tested because, if I've got coronavirus, I don't have the coverage to get that treated." This is the exact wrong moment for people who are broke to not get health care. So I don't know what the President is talking about -- I hope he's right. There are 30 million people already without health care, and that number is also going to go up.

REID: And they're also trying to shut down all of the Affordable Care Act -- they're still trying to fight it in court. Governors are still refusing to expand Medicare -- Medicaid. You know what my in-laws are doing for health care during this crisis? Going to the doctor because they're in England where they have universal health care!

VELSHI: Yup.

REID: Hello, America! It would be so much easier if we had universal health care. Hello!

VELSHI: So much easier.

REID: Thank you, Ali Velshi.

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