Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sicko - Michael Moore

This documentary shows that fifty million Americans are uninsured, and those who are covered (whom Moore states at the beginning are what the film is about rather than the uninsured) are subject to becoming victims of insurance company fraud and red tape, with real case costs shown ranging from loss of fingertips or coverage to loss of life.

Interviews are conducted with both people who have been denied care who thought they had adequate coverage as well as former employees of insurance companies who describe cost-cutting initiatives that encourage bonuses for insurance company physicians to deny medical treatments for policy holders. Moving to Canada, Moore then describes the case of Tommy Douglas, who was voted the Greatest Canadian in 2004 for his contributions to the Canadian health system, and interviews a microsurgeon and people waiting in the emergency room of a Canadian public hospital.

The history of health care debate in the U.S. is explained, with the stance against universal health care systems set against the backdrop of 1950s-style anti-communist propaganda. A 1960s record distributed by the American Medical Association and narrated by Ronald Reagan is cited, which claimed universal health care could lead to communism. Moore cites examples such as the American police, fire service, postal service, public education and community libraries, which are said to be "socialized" services and have not led to communism.

Further evidence of the origins of the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973 are presented using a taped conversation between John Ehrlichman and President Richard Nixon on February 17, 1971; Ehrlichman is heard telling Nixon that "...the less care they give them, the more money they make", a plan that Nixon remarked "appeals to me". This led to the expansion of the modern HMO-based health care system. Connections are highlighted between Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the lobbying arm of the largest drug companies in the United States, lobbying groups in Washington D.C., and the United States Congress. Hillary Clinton, who once championed the Clinton health care plan, is cited as the Senate's second-highest recipient of health care industry campaign donations.

Moving to the United Kingdom, another country with a comprehensive free healthcare system (the National Health Service), Moore interviews patients and inquires about in-hospital expenses incurred by patients, only to be told laughingly that there are no out-of-pocket payments. Moore visits a UK pharmacy, where pharmaceuticals are free of charge for persons under 16 or over 60, and subsidized in most cases for everyone else; only a fixed amount of £6.65 per prescription is charged (about $13 U.S.), irrespective of cost to the NHS. Further, NHS hospitals employ a cashier, part of whose job is to reimburse low-income patients for their out-of-pocket travel costs to the hospital. Interviews include an NHS general practitioner, an American woman residing in London, and Tony Benn, a Labour politician and former Member of Parliament. Benn compares any attempt to dismantle the NHS with reversing women's suffrage and says it would result in a revolution.

In France, Moore interviews the head of obstetrics and gynaecology in a French hospital, and a group of Americans living in France. He also rides with "SOS M├ędecins", a 24-hour French medical service that provides house calls by physicians. The French government provides social services such as day care for $1 an hour and neonatal support that includes cooking, cleaning, and laundry services for new mothers.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great film. Glad your able to put it up here so more people can see it. have you thought of linking to "Slacker Uprising?" Michael Moores FREE Documentary about his 2004 campaing?