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.