Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Movie Report: Go See "Sicko"

I'm a Michael Moore fan, I'll admit it, having first heard of him when he was a high school kid running for the school board 35 years ago in Flint, Michigan, where I was working as a newspaper reporter. But even if you're not a Michael Moore fan, you need to go see his latest movie, Sicko.

The title of the movie refers to the condition of the United States health care system. No one, except the very rich and very poor, can afford health care these days without insurance. No one, except the very rich, can afford insurance. Moore contrasts the U.S. system with the socialized care provided in Canada, England, France and Cuba. While this might seem like a boring subject, Moore, as always, manages to tell the story with humor and human interest.

I know, I know, Moore presents only one side of a complicated issue, the problem of how to deliver affordable health care to our population. But the facts are undeniable; the United States spends far more per person for health care than any other country, and for the money, it does not deliver the best health care in the world by any objective measurement -- life expectancy; infant mortality rate, or any other measurement you want to choose.

Just yesterday, I had a young couple come to see me for a problem right out of "Sicko." He lost his job and bought Blue Cross/Blue Shield for himself and his young son on the internet. He developed a kidney stone, and after getting pre-approved, wound up having three surgeries because of complications. When the bill reached $50,000, the insurance company started looking for ways to deny coverage. They went over his application and medical records with a fine toothed comb, and discovered he had purchased some pain killers on the internet which he had not disclosed. So, they sent him a letter revoking his policy, refunding his premiums and now he is stuck with the bills. The only way to describe a system that allows such game playing is "sicko."

I've looked around the internet for criticisms of "Sicko," and haven't found many. The main one seems to be that Moore understates the problems of socialized medicine; the primary problem apparently thought to be long waits for routine care. That criticism doesn't impress me much because I have seen the long waits we have under our privatized system. The Wife wasn't interested in seeing "Sicko," saying that it only appeals to people who already agree with its premise. That is true to some extent, but I think it also inspires people to work for change. Although the power of the medical industry's lobbyists is great, the health care system is so broken that change is going to have to happen.

I gave the movie five out of five stars.


Gnightgirl said...

I'm behind on the world. I'm still trying to find time to watch Gore's "Inconvenient Truth"; keep meaning to rent it. Then I'll watch all of Michael Moore's stuff. At least I saw "Super Size Me."

twoblueday said...

Our government has become paralyzed in terms of acting on anything important: health care; excessive dependence on (foreign) oil; global warming (I am not yet 100% convinced this is a man-made problem); and on and on. So, what do they give us? Useless wars. Immigration policy they won't enforce, so they wrangle about some allegedly different policy (which they won't enforce).

I have given up on government as an agent of change.

rdl said...

Yes but when and how? it's such a big mess. I will watch this for sure now.

becky said...

Coming from a medical care giver experience I saw far too many really sick patients receiving very costly care in many cases due to the fact that they didn't receive treatment earlier. Although some people neglect themselves, MOST would seek earlier treatment if they could afford it or had insurance coverage. They tend to run the risk of having a deteriorating condition.

I haven't been to the movie but I intend to get there. Thanks for the review.

¡Ich bin auch Amische! said...

As always a brilliant review of something that should stir us. However, I would hope the Amish Lawyer would look in the mirror and report on his experiences with the crazily, inequitable US healthcare system. For example, I have a dearly beloved brother who is alive today because of personal connections which allowed him to jump the queue in the allegedly wonderful no-wait-for-essential-help private insurance system. The parent of a friend of his son allowed him to get a quick test which identified a fast-growing tumor that could be excised with a snip up his nose instead of heavy duty brain surgery. Thank God (or whatever) that timely intervention stretched his time on this earth so today he can charm us with his bloviating.

Debra Hope said...

Haven't seen SiCKO yet, but probably this weekend as it just opened in our area -- southwest, backwoods, redneck Florida.

I'm the first to admit I have great insurance coverage thanks to the City of Chicago (for which I am eternally grateful). I'd ask that all of you consider the following. It is absolutely critical, first of all, that we work hard to stay healthy. If and when something happens (and it will) become knowledgeable about your condition and/or problem. Come to appointments with written questions and insist on answers. If you are at all uncomfortable or not satisfied, find another doctor. Be aggressive as a pit bull when seeking treatment -- remember, the doctor works for YOU. Review every single bill for mistakes and overcharges and then request that your carrier not pay them -- I've never lost an argument over disputed charges. Make a friend at your insurance company, at the doctor's office, and at the hospital; get direct dial numbers for these people. And remember, humor and good manners go a long way! Spend the time necessary to do all of this, not only to make sure you get the care you need, but to assure that only the services and products you actually receive are billed to and paid by the insurance company.

Yes, it takes time, but it can be done, and it's something every one of us can do right at this moment while we work to make things right for everyone. And, in case you wonder if I know whereof I speak, my husband is a 14-year bilateral lung transplant survivor!

Amishlaw said...

Ich, I take it you're talking about me, but I'm afraid you got your story mixed up. I didn't jump any queue because of a connection with the parent of a friend of my son. I just got lucky because of a combination of circumstances, which are too complicated to get into here, but none of which had anything to do with whom I knew.

twoblueday said...

Correct me if I'm wrong. A vast amount of the money spent on health care in our country goes not to caregivers, but to the middleman (the insurance industry in the form of profits, and costs of doing business). Why is it so hard for our nation to see that this is a middleman we don't need?

Debra Hope said...

TWOBLUEDAY, you're correct in your assertion that there's an unnecessary meddling middleman -- my GP just bemoaned that very fact. However, it's the system we've got and when you’re sick, you do what you have to do. It's up to us to use it responsibly and knowledgeably.