Sunday, March 9

Sicko: Is Michael Moore right?

Michael Moore's 2007 film Sicko about the American health care system took me a bit by surprise when I first watched it: I thought it was smart, well-made, and actually quite funny. But I still came away from the film with a fundamental question that many others have also posed: To what extent is Sicko "correct" in its judgment that the American health care system is inferior to systems found in countries such as Canada, France, and the United Kingdom? I'm sure that in any country, you can find both horror and success stories about the quality and accessibility of their health care, and Moore did indeed find many compelling examples of how the American system fails people in ways that other systems do not. But what is missing from the picture he paints?

Criticism of Sicko is not hard to find; here is one of the more thoughtful pieces I read, and here is a longer piece by MTV's Kurt Loder. But I tend to trust people I know much more than any random article on the Internet, which is why I am calling on those of you with experience with other health care systems to contact me with your comments:

e-mail: contact [at] kevinmarkham [dot] com

Or, just post your comments below.

These reactions will be featured in a series of guest posts on this blog. I look forward to your thoughts!


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen Sicko and I don't know exactly about your question but two things:

1. When I lived in Germany I did NOT pay taxes and I was NOT a German citizen, yet I was 100% covered by full health insurance, including dental.

2. A family from my school who lives in a shelter recently had a severely sick child with a temperature of 103 degrees. The mother chose note to take the child to the hospital because she could not afford the hospital bill; nor could she afford a doctor's bill. We ultimately worked something out with her. The idea that someone would be forced into making a decision like this I find appallling.


Anonymous said...

I have seen Sicko and agree with both your comments as to it being highly entertaining and thought-provoking, but also with the two criticisms about its many holes in logic.

It was eye-opening and definitely a confirmation of the worst aspects of US health care. It was especially interesting to learn of the starting of HMOs. I've wondered how people "survived" before the health care system we have today.

As for Michael Moore's overblown praise for socialized medicine? It does put other systems in a rosy light, and come on, you gotta know that to a degree...especially in Cuba... that the video camera presence is going to give the patients the star treatment, but he does make interesting observations.

What WOULD it be like if you didn't have to worry about how much it would cost and what inane procedure you have to follow in order to take care of yourself?

I won't rant on, oh wait, yes I will, but if you'd like to know more about health care in the US, I have experienced it in five different states: public, private, workmans comp. And I live in Los Angeles of all places, where a few months ago there was endless debate over closing down MLK Hospital because a woman was seizing in ER waiting room and there was footage of her being ignored by a nurse and swept around by a maintenance worker. Her male companion was also trying to get an ambulance to transport her to another hospital, but no one would help as she was already in a hospital. (amongst other violations and instances of sub-standard care)

Also they are talking about privatizing all public health be run by far there are no takers.

On a different note, something to make the film better....cut out all the French couples and the song about amore....what the hell does that have to do with anything...except stupid American stereotypes about France.

And to freak you out some more, here's an article on drug contamination found in public H2O:


Unknown said...

I saw Sicko a month or two ago and felt it was a very truthful documentary. Of course it's a bit extreme - that's Michael Moore for you. But overall, I felt Moore was very realistic about this very serious issue in America today.

In comparison to other less developed countries, out healthcare system here is ideal. But, one cannot compare apples and oranges, so I therefore believe as a democracy, America is definitely lacking in the equality of health care for all.

While living in New Zealand with a with a full time job, I was totally covered for any emergency healthcare problems and at the same time covered for disability/out of work coverage. This was a pretty good situation for me since I was not a citizen. In comparison to my husband's situation here in America - a New Zealander awaiting his permanent residence - we do often worry about anything serious happening to him since he would not be covered anywhere. Plus, the expenses of dental care and other necessities overwhelms me.

In New Zealand, he has access to all health care facilities just as every other person does no matter where they work, how old they are, and how much money they have or do not have. If you wish to see a specialized Doctor, it may cost a bit more, but still only around $50 per appointment. Plus, pharmaceuticals are way cheap without any kind of "insurance."

It would be very hard to think what life would be like without health benefits. I cannot imagine being a parent and having to worry about taking my kid to the hospital because I couldn't afford it. However, this does happen every day in this country even though we are one of the most richest nations in the world.

Having a healthcare system that is truly equal and universal could help this country in so many ways. Although many of us Americans want to deny the truth in Michael Moore's films, I embrace it for it opens our eyes to see how we can better our country.