Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ made me sick

Karen, Honey and I went to see Sicko yesterday along with another couple from church. Michael Moore’s latest offering documents the health care crisis that we have in America and I think that it’s his best work to date, but it made me feel literally sick.

I guess I’m a big crybaby, because I spent about half of the film in tears. Moore gave example after example of injustice in our country towards people who are unable to pay for health care. Some lost homes and jobs, but some lost lives. All because of greed on the part of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. These stories were human tragedies and I could almost feel their pain and despair.

The film contains security camera footage of an elderly woman being dropped off on the street after being discharged from the hospital. Thankfully, it was in front of a shelter and one of the employees spotted her wandering aimlessly outside in a hospital gown and barefoot. This was a glaring example of how we treat those who are unable to afford necessary treatment.

Moore covered the health care systems in Canada, Britain, France, and Cuba – all countries that provide complete coverage for their citizens. He didn’t just get the story from those citizens, but also from Americans living in those countries. It was amazing to see the level of services provided for free, often appearing to be better than what we have here.

The British have had national health care since the end of World War II, which surprised me. One very eloquent man that Moore interviewed said that Britons felt “if they could spend money to kill people, they could spend money to help people.” What a beautiful sentiment and how relative to today’s situation, where we spend billions of dollars to “protect” the very people that we neglect.

Canadians also have a wonderful system, with short wait times and the option of choosing which doctor you want to see. Many Canadians purchase health insurance before traveling to the U.S., out of fear that a medical emergency might occur while they are here.

France seems to have the best system of all, with free health care that is coupled with unlimited sick days and a minimum of 5 weeks of vacation each year. House calls by doctors are common and the government even pays someone to help new mothers adapt after going home from the hospital.

French doctors are even paid more by the government if their patients become more healthy. So, essentially, doctors are rewarded if patients stop smoking and exercise to lower their blood pressure. The concept of preventive medicine is almost unheard of in the United States, but makes sense as healthier patients would be less costly for the government.

In one of the slickest stunts I’ve seen in a documentary, Moore loaded up some of the ailing workers from the 9/11 tragedy and took them to Cuba by boat. These workers were some of the first to respond to the attack and spent hours trying to recover victims and save those who were trapped. Our government has turned its back on them, since they were members of volunteer firefighting organizations.

After seeing government reports of the excellent medical care being provided to suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, Moore declared it the only place in the United States that has universal health care and decided to see if these responders could get necessary treatment for their ailments. Upon arriving outside Gitmo in a boat, he used a loudspeaker to declare that these were American citizens who needed the same medical care they were providing the “evil-doers”. It made for a good laugh, but was a genius use of sarcasm. They finally left after sirens began blaring and went to Havana, where they got free and meticulous medical care from compassionate and caring hospital staff.

On the way out of the theater, we paused with some others to share our opinions and Karen made the statement that our country is “rotting from within”. Unfortunately, I think she’s exactly right. Honey overheard another woman refer to the film as “un-American”, having apparently missed the whole point.

Our entire way of life is becoming about as un-American as it can possibly get. Our politicians run their campaigns using one-liners like “No child left behind” and “Standing with seniors”, but as long as we allow the weakest members of our society to suffer physically and financially, how can we possibly claim to believe in family values? As long as we live under the fear of getting sick and the burden of medical bills, how many of us can claim to be free? As long as the sick and dying are overlooked because of expense, how can we really claim to be Christians?

So, I’m glad Sicko made me sick. My hope is that it makes enough people sick that we will hold our politicians accountable for this humanitarian crisis that we call “health care”.

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 12 years and three fabulous felines.

18 thoughts on “Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ made me sick”

  1. Brian,

    Thanks for the excellent review of the movie! I had not planned on seeing it, but will now.

    “French doctors are even paid more by the government if their patients become more healthy. So, essentially, doctors are rewarded if patients stop smoking and exercise to lower their blood pressure…”

    I have complained for years that it is in the doctor’s and pharmaceutical companies’ best interest to keep their patients sick. If everyone were healthy they’d lose business. The same is true is everyone dies quickly. So it serves them well for people to be a lttle sick over a long period of time–an office visit every few weeks and a new prescription with each visit. Cha-ching.

    I also understand that Congress has quite a good health care benefits.

    I’d be curious to hear from some of your regular readers who work in the health care industry what they think of the current situation.


  2. JimT,

    I agree completely. I’ve often worried that potential cures for diseases might be kept under wraps, since treating them is more profitable. :(

  3. I wasn’t kidding, Brian, when I turned to you after SICKO and said I could hardly wait to read your blog-comments about the film. You’ve covered Moore’s territory deftly and fairly, no small feat.

    I hope all your blog-friends go see Moore’s documentary and decide for themselves what they think and how they’ll respond. (The first part’s easier than the second. Still, we DO need to find ways to respond!)

  4. Haven’t seen it and am not a fan of Michael Moore’s, HOWEVER, I think that he has probably did something that all Americans can agree that definitely needs fixing and that is our Health Coverage.
    It is outrageous how much we have to pay to have it and even more outrageous the kind of treatment we receive when we don’t have it.

    I know that there are alot of conspiracy theories out there about alot of things BUT I do believe that there is probably some truth to the statements concerning “special interest” groups.

    Karen also spoke the truth when she said we are “rotting from within” Our whole Heathcare Systems stinks!!!!

  5. I don’t work in the medical field, but just about everyone else in my family does.

    I’ve sat and listened to my sister-in-law go on and on about all the tests she *has* to prescribe, because if even some small detail gets missed, it’s lawsuit city.

    And there’s paperwork just to do paperwork.

    Un-American, huh? I really hate that phrase (since, of course, *I* know exactly what it means to be an American, so all the rest of you with opinions can go jump off a cliff), but I find it’s usually used by folks who view independence as the primary American ideal. Own your house, run your own company, defend your property, etc. Since I always try to get into the head of the opposition, I think about this a lot. *Does* it accelerate social/cultural decay to encourage the ordinary man to rely on others? *Is* it corrupting to the ideal of individualism to encourage reliance on the government? *Won’t* a society of individuals who each take charge of their own business be more vibrant, robust and sustainable?

    These are really difficult questions to address. I usually counter them in my head by looking at the consequences. Do you *really* want to live in a society where you have to be comfortable watching your neighbor (well, some stranger, anyway) fail at life because they aren’t the kind of person who can succeed in a (irony, here) Darwinian society? Isn’t it also corrupting to lose touch with your neighbors as you pursue that better job and nicer house?

    I think that there’s a lot of grey area between pure capitalism and a nanny state, and we do need to find some sort of system which can deliver basic health care for all. But, I do worry that our standard of care is SO high (yet, really do we want less?) that delivering that level of quality care to each and every American is prohibitively expensive? Sure it’s ideal that nobody starve, but then isn’t the motivation not to starve a big goad along the road to success?

    I really wish there were simple answers.

  6. Mario,

    I agree that our standard of care can be pretty high (for those who have access to it), but I don’t think it’s any better than the systems profiled in this film. I was frankly shocked, having been brainwashed to believe that everything is better in this country. All of these countries have far less resources than we do and it’s a shame that we care more about rebuilding and policing foreign countries than taking care of our own citizens.

    I also think it’s important for people to work for what they have, but there comes a time when those same hard-working people can’t work anymore because of age or sickness. They shouldn’t be thrown by the wayside, simply because they aren’t productive members of society.

    I had a friend tell me last night that she was informed by our local health clinic that unless she increases the monthly payment she is sending them for past care, they will refuse care to her and her young children. This woman works hard for little pay, but doesn’t have health insurance provided through her workplace.

    You raise an important point about the unnecessary tests that are prescribed because of fear of lawsuits. It’s just another symptom of the decline of American morals, where a litigious society is constantly looking for an easy buck. I don’t know how a government-ran health care system would deal with such lawsuits, since a patient would basically be suing the government. “I fought the law, and the law won” comes to mind. :)

  7. Did Moore touch on the problems with health care in those countries he highlighted such as long wait times, the costs of their bureaucracy or sub-standard care in some instances? I also wonder if he illustrated the numerous instances of citizens from the UK/Canada travelling to the United States for medical care.

    All medical care systems have their own unique problems. I do not want a socialized system in the United States but we can as a country do more for the poor and underprivileged.

  8. BC&B,

    Moore did in fact ask people in some of those countries how long their wait times were, and the ones that were shown in the film were quite short. Also, the film profiled people who actually went to Canada and pretended to be Canadian in order to get health care. I guess it works both ways, since we also have “high costs, long wait times, and sub-standard care in some cases”. ;)

    You’re right, though. We do need to do more for the poor and disadvantaged.

  9. Right on. I’ve got the most useless insurance in the world. I am a family of five. Our new insurance policy came about because the owner of the company didn’t want to pay an extra 20.00 a month per employee to keep the old coverage.
    Now we have no co-pays, you pay the full bill. We have 3,000.00 deductible per family member with 5,000.00 out of pocket per family member. As a family we have 9,000.00 deductible and 10,000.00 out of pocket. The insurance from United Healthcare is completely worthless to us.
    I don’t make good money, and to scramble to come up with over 300.00 for a doctor’s app. for one of my kids breaks us. Sometimes all three of our kids get sick at the same time and that really breaks the bank. We are already suffering because of the high cost of energy now, and this is just more punishment.
    If by some chance you do go past your out of pocket for something like cancer, diabetes etc., then the owner of the company asks the insurance to raise your deductible to 50,000.00 per individual. This is a proven fact in the case of Potts vs. Motsenbocker, which can be looked up at fastcase.com.
    If you are extremely wealthy, extremely poor or elderly you will get healthcare in this country. Everyone else just pray that you stay healthy, because you will suffer badly if something happens to you.

  10. PFC,

    That is so sad that your boss put $20 ahead of you and your fellow employees.

    Our current policy requires an average of 35 hours of work per week or it gets dropped… unless the employee is willing to pick up the tab. That means a serious illness that forces you to miss too much work also causes you to lose your insurance coverage. Just when you need it most – poof! – it’s gone.

  11. Best Buy hires almost 100% part times employees so that they don’t have to provide them with insurance.
    If people would only quit doing business with companies that practice this type of bad behavior, we would solve a lot of problems very quickly.

  12. Well, Best Buys isn’t the only one. I would say that all Retail/Businesses now hire a big majority of only Part-time people. The basic rule of coverage is this: You can work up to 34 hrs awk and receive NO insurance (some businesses offer what they call a supplement medical coverage, it only helps with very few medical proceders). Then full-time people have to work at least 35 hrs a wk to receive and maintain their coverage. Which as PFC stated deductibles keep rising and rising. More and more Doctors offices are demanding payment before seeing you.
    I have many relatives, friends and just ordinary people who have no insurance and have to go to the emergency room every time they are sick just because the ER won’t/can’t turn them away.

    Mario is right about test being run just to avoid lawsuits. Honestly, lawsuits are as much to blame in the high cost of medical care. It is unreal how much doctors have to pay to help guard them against and help them in case of (multiple) lawsuits.

    The idea of FREE healthcare all around sounds very appealing! And I for one would love it!!!! However, it something sounds to good to be true then it usually is.
    Also, nothing in life is FREE.
    I think that IF the government took responsibility for our Healthcare before long there would be regulations. Such as on smoking, drinking, what we eat (doesn’t that sound familiar?)
    That is when we really starting crying UNAMERICAN, when they start legalizing how we should behave, how we should speak, how we should talk.
    So, again it comes down to politics of this great country.

    I agree with Black Coffee and Bourbon “All medical care systems have their own unique problems. I do not want a socialized system in the United States but we can as a country do more for the poor and underprivileged.”

    I also think that we should clean up our legal system in the process!!!!

  13. Well, it certainly wouldn’t be free, but it would be universal. Nothing is free in life and it would be paid for with taxes. Our government has spent over $450 billion to finance this disaster of a war, and they could certainly have used that money to fund a national health care system for many, many years.

  14. This is a great post, Brian. As someone with a chronic health condition who was just denied short term disability, it hits very close to home. I can no longer afford insurance, so I’ve decided to just stay away from the medical industry altogether. Having worked for a major health care corporation for a while, it’s hard to see these mega-million dollar salaries being paid out after sharing a hospital room with a little old lady who was cutting her heart medication in half after quadruple bypass surgery. She couldn’t afford the entire dose.

  15. Brian,
    That sounds like a nice idea. I pay about $45 a week for medical, dental, vision, short-term and long-term disability.
    Let’s just say that our government considered it, how much much taxes would they take? They take about 30% of mine now.

    Also, wouldn’t it be nice if they would use at least 1/2 the other foreign aide to suppy food to low income families BUT especially to seniors who when receiving social security only get $17 in foodstamps!?

  16. moonbeammcqueen,

    That is really sad. I work with someone that had a relative die because she couldn’t afford to buy her heart medicine. I’m assuming the family didn’t realize until it was too late.


    I really believe they could do this without raising taxes, but I doubt they’d tell us that. :?

  17. Most of my relatives live in Canada, and I can tell you definitively that Moore showed only one side of the coin. The Canadian health system is overworked, understaffed, and in many cases fails similarly to the US health system. My family frequently come to the US to see field specialists; to see a similar specialist in Canada requires waiting for months and months.

    That’s the thing about propaganda . . . it’s never balanced. I don’t deny that the US health system is a mess, but socialized medicine in Canada and Britain doesn’t work anywhere near as well as Moore makes out in the film. My friends who live in Europe tell me that France’s system is decent, and the Netherlands is outstanding.

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