Movie Review: SiCKO

Posted: July 9, 2007 in america, medical, politics


I’m not a great fan of Michael Moore. I refused to see “Fahrenheit 911” because I thought it was nothing more than blatant propaganda. I watched “Bowling for Columbine” on video (rented) and found plenty of distortion to argue with. He is truly a brilliant storyteller and yes, propagandist. So when I heard he was doing a movie about the health care industry, I decided it was time to come down off my moral high horse and check it out.

“SiCKO” is a movie that you desperately want to disagree with, but can’t. Americans live in a fantasy world where their country has the best health care in the world, and other countries where “socialized medicine” is the standard are backward, government-run bureaucracies where the citizens wait for hours to get medical treatment and pay exorbitant taxes to support the system.

As the movie unfolds, Moore first introduces us to several victims of the American health “care” system, then visits four of the countries most often criticized by the opponents of national health care, Canada, England, France, and finally Cuba. In every case, everything we’ve been told about their nationalized health services, that they’re “cumbersome”, “bureaucratic”, that they “deny choice”, or “deny access”, turns out to be not only wrong, but 180 degrees wrong. In fact, all the pejoratives commonly used by national health care opponents most accurately describe OUR system than anyone else’s.

I lived in England for four years, where we took advantage of the NHS (National Health Service) on a regular basis. We never had to wait longer than a day for treatment, and in fact, though we had access to medical care via the military system, we found the NHS easier to use, and provided a higher quality and availability of care than the military medical service.

When we returned to the States we were disappointed by both the military system and off-base civilian hospitals. In both cases, obtaining specialist care was nearly impossible, billing was confusing and inconsistent, and decisions made were based on no rational criteria we could identify.

Perhaps the most damning commentary on the American system comes at the end, when Moore visits Cuba and is able to obtain treatment for three 9-11 volunteers, who had previously been denied care in the U.S, at no cost to them. If a tiny nation like Cuba, with its limited funds and resources, can provide universal health care to its citizens and visitors, why can’t we?

Our system is not merely broken, it’s deliberately rigged to deny care to those who need it. Something’s got to be done, and the sooner the better.

SiCKO. Check it out.

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