Health Ad Pulled for Error

School of Public Health Researchers Missed Inaccuracy

A national TV ad campaign for health care reform has been temporarily pulled because of a factual error missed by the ad's makers as well as by School of Public Health researchers.

The School of Public Health had contributed to the campaign, funded by the San Francisco-based Kaiser Family Fund and the League of Women Voters. The ad said that eight out of 10 Americans don't get health insurance on the job.

In fact, eight of 10 Americans in working families are uninsured. And after conservative columnist George F. Will pointed out the error in a Newsweek article, the ad was pulled and Kaiser apologized.

Professor of Health Policy and Management Robert J. Blendon said this week that Harvard researchers were not responsible for the error.

He said that the school had only provided published studies, including data from the U.S. census. The ad's makers then drew their own conclusions, Blendon said. "All we gave [the sponsor] on that was the U.S. Census study," Blendon said.

The mistake in the advertisement escaped the notice of more than 50 people who reviewed the ad, including Blendon.

"I didn't pick it up," said Blendon. "After I saw Will's [Newsweek article], I said, 'He's completely right."

Blendon also said researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Health had also contributed to the ad campaign.

Marci Jensen, a communications assistant at the Kaiser Family Fund, said yesterday that her group was "in the process of rectifying the ad.

"The error just slipped through the cracks," Jensen said.

The $450 million dollar fund, founded in 1948 by wealthy philanthropist Henry Kaiser and his wife, has been swamped with calls from various parties concerned about the mistake Jensen said.

"We had our policy people, our advertising people, our grantees calling to point out the mistake," Jensen said.

The advertisement is the Kaiser Family Fund's first attempt to use the media to inform the public on key issues of health reform, Jensen said.

"[Actually], I think by and large the impact of the advertisement has been positive," Jensen said. "We are pleased to know so many people are concerned with the issue [of health care]."