Sunday, July 1, 2007

'What can I do?' - SiCKO

SICKO, A Must See

Like him or not, Michael Moore has created a film that everyone can relate to and should take the time to go see. Sicko is a movie that should both shock and anger most Americans. I know that the great majority of people care more about Paris Hilton's imprisonment (Michael Moore was actually 'bumped' from Larry King Live the other night in favor of La Hilton!) or Lindsay Lohan's crash and burn, but this movie tells a story that affects everybody: health care. My advice to anyone who might read this is to just go and see it!

The movie is produced in classic Michael Moore style, combining heartbreaking, true life stories with snippets of pertinent, informative, and sometimes humorous sound bites. The movie opens with the story of a uninsured man who had to choose between repairing his middle finger ($60,000) or his ring finger ($12,000), which had been severed in a table-saw accident. Being a hopeless romantic, he chose the less expensive ring finger. After another couple of similarly tragic tales, Moore informs us that although these stories are sad, the movie is not about them. The purpose of the movie is to highlight not the 45 million or so without access to the system, but the rest of us who believe that we're protected from any sort of major health problem because we have insurance.

Here are some eye-opening highlights that scream for attention and action:

- Countless stories of unnecessary deaths resulting from beaurocratic red tape and denial of services.

- The premise that people who work for insurance companies are rewarded with bonuses and promotions based on the number of denials for treatments they issue. He showcases the 1987 congressional testimony of Linda Peeno, a physician: “In the spring of 1987, as a physician, I denied a man a necessary operation that would have saved his life, and thus caused his death. No person and no group has held me accountable for this, because in fact what I did was save a company half a million dollars. ... I had one primary duty, and that was to use my medical expertise for the financial benefit of the organization for which I worked.”

- The millions and millions of dollars contributed by pharmaceutical companies, HMO's, physicians and other health care professionals to elected officials in our government. What for? Guess!

- The brainwashing of Americans into believing that socialized anything would lead to communism. You know, that communism, the evil of our times. At the same time, Moore points out that we already have socialized programs (fire departments, library systems, schools...even the post office), yet we've been led to believe that socialized health care is somehow evil.

- Moore takes us on visits to three countries: Canada, Great Britain, and France. All three countries have one form or another of universal health care. What we see in these episodes is quite unbelieveable to any American: cheap drugs, quality health care, incentives (to medical professionals in Britain) for prevention, free health care, doctors (in France) who are on call all night being dispatched around town to people in need of care (did I mention, it's free!), and countless other mouthwateringtoAmericans accounts.

Of course, Michael Moore can be somewhat of an exaggerator. He's often been accused of skewing facts to fit his views. That's part of his purpose! Sometimes you have to experience the extreme to get somewhere in the middle and that's what he does. I'm sure things in these countries are as perfectly rosy as Moore depicts them to be. Yet still what they've got is better than what we've got, that's for sure. The US ranks 37th out of 191 countries right behind Costa Rica. (All three countries in the film are ranked ahead of us, too. France is 1st. World Health Report, 2000.) Even Cuba, site of the most controversial footage in the movie, ranks just below us, at number 39.

For sure, everyone needs to see this movie. Take your mind off Brittney Spears for two hours and wake up!