Review: Sicko

We saw the new Michael Moore flick, “Sicko,” last night at the Chase Plaza Theater. A guy played an organ before the movie started and I could buy a beer at the concession stand…and after the matinee movies started, they brought out the full bar for mixed drinks… I think we’ll be going back there… 😛

The movie itself is a documentary about the health care “system” here in the United States, about corporate profits and buyoffs of government officials, about how people in the middle class that had insurance were denied claims, and about how socialized health care (i.e. Canada, France, England) isn’t the evil that the right-wing wants us to believe.

Personally, I thought the movie was really, really well done. The main criticism of the film, however, is that it’s “one-sided” and that the health care industry as a whole doesn’t have the opportunity to rebutt. In my opinion however, after seeing what was presented in the movie, I find it hard to believe that an argument against these claims even exists. One is that socialized medicine will mean longer waits and less choice over doctors. Moore goes to Canada and shoots that one down quickly (20 min to 1 hr waits at any hospital). One is that, due to socialized medicine, you get higher taxes. He goes to France and shows a couple that makes the equivalent of $100,000, pays their taxes, and still travels all over the world (i.e. Sri Lanka, of all places…), has a new plasma TV, leather couches, etc. Another criticism is that doctors don’t make as much in Canada or England as they do here. Yeah…they still drive Audis that sell for $50,000 here…

Also, the movie isn’t all about health care. For much of the movie, he discusses other socialized systems in goverment. For example, in France, if you have a job, you get 5 weeks off a year minimum. That’s full-time or part-time. It’s required. If you’re sick, you get to take time off…paid… 65% from the government, 35% from the business. A guy had cancer, took three months off and went to the south of France…and was paid the whole time. It’s just a different mentality over there, and they’re all about preventative care.

So yeah, it was good, and I think the arguments were well thought-out and thoroughly established…let alone the fact that it was a highly entertaining and funny movie, too. It was also pretty depressing. Without explaining completely, let me just say that Moore takes some sick people to Cuba…and they get better treatment…and cheaper drugs… The examples of what people have to go through here, and that living somewhere else (and not necessarily in poverty) gets you better health coverage, is simply sad.

Thus, I ask you…see if you can find some rebuttals to this movie (whether you agree with them or not), ’cause I’m rather curious what could possibly shoot down what I saw. Sure, I bet Moore did some picking and choosing as to the examples he showed, but obviously we aren’t getting the whole story from our government (i.e. crazy right-wing Republicans) or the media (i.e. FOX News)…

Edit: CNN ran a little blurb about the film bringing up “fudged” facts… For those that care, Moore got to respond to it to Wolf Blitzer right after it aired, and then posted a full retort on his website later. Moore’s response to Blitzer is somewhat entertaining in the beginning, but his response on his website includes full citations for his claims about the report CNN ran just before his interview. If you have concerns about Moore’s statistics, it’s worth a read.

7 Replies to “Review: Sicko”

  1. Andy Andy Andy.

    “In my opinion however, after seeing what was presented in the movie, I find it hard to believe that an argument against these claims even exists.”

    You know better than that. Now i’m glad I gave away the ending to transformers!

    While I certainly agree that our healthcare system needs to be reformed and there are a lot of good arguments for different ways to accomplish it (more preventative care, government “extreme circumstances” relief, etc), you are drinking 100% Michael Moore undiluted koolaid here. Which is too bad, because he’s a complete disaster. How dare you watch a Michael Moore movie and think that “nothing needs to be questioned” in it. Have you SEEN his other movies? They are chock full of half truths and even outright lies.

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but there are so many things that are wrong with socialism that I promise you that there are “contending arguments to consider.” I’ll get you on IM sometime.

  2. For the record, I’m not advocating a complete switch to a socialist society… But has he brings up later in the movie, plenty of aspects of American life are “socialist” in nature, including the police, fire department and water treatment… Why not health care?

    Here’s an article for you, Andy: http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_andrew_s_070707_sicko_3a_framing_the_d.htm

    Sure, it doesn’t appear on CNN or MSNBC, but at the bottom of the first page, he summarizes data from the World Health Organization. I quote from the article (most of the way to the bottom of the article):

    “But let’s return to that WHO data. If you have IE7, you can easily use the “tabs” feature to do side-by-side comparisons of the United States to any other country listed on the WHO website. Let’s look at Moore’s most impressive claims. Do Canadians live 3 years longer? Click along with me…yes, they do. Is their child mortality rate lower? It is. Do they spend less on health care – hold on, we must be careful with this question. We cannot necessarily use dollars, even with the “international $” which lists the per-capita expenditures of each country on health care, because it will not actually provide us the answer to what we are looking for. We want to know how much it costs one country relative to itself to pay for their health-care system. The better figure to use is “% of GDP”. So…do Canadians pay less? Hell yes.”

  3. I must say that I thought this was a great movie as well. The only article I’ve read thus far that had anything negative to say about it was from a Canadian who thought the short wait times for their country were slightly exaggerated. There seem to be a lot of internal memos going around the health insurance companies these days discussing strategies to discredit Moore’s film. It’d be nice to see some positive change come from this — definitely his best film, and one that everyone can get behind.

  4. I have overwhelming evidence that socialized medicine (or whatever you want to call it) will never, _ever_ work in this country, though it might in other, smaller countries: Americans are lazy, selfish, greedy pricks.

    Proof? People with military health care benefits. Lots of people have the attitude “I was promised free health care for life, dammit, and I’m gonna get it.”

    A friend of mine who is an ER doc on an army hospital is _full_ of stories like the following:

    People will wait for literally hours in the ER for a Tylenol instead of go _across the street_ to Walgreen’s to get some, because it’s “free”. Think of the insane cost of doing this: You’re incurring costs

    – for the consult from the physician (they have to give you a full checkup, just in case you have meningitis or something)
    – paying salaries for the ER secretary, nurse who takes your initial info, pharmacist, custodial staff, facilities staff who keep the lights on, IT systems to manage that little bottle of aspirin you just got, etc.

    A bottle of Tylenol at Walgreen’s is $5.00. Generic stuff at Walgreen’s is $2.50. I obviously don’t have concrete numbers for a one-hour ER visit, but I can make a very educated guess of $500 or more, depending on location. That’s the sort of efficiency we can expect from socialized medicine in America.

    Remember: This is the _rule_, not the exception.

    Health care in ‘merica is certainly broken. It’s broken everywhere, except maybe some small, wealthy countries. But for the love of god don’t get your health care information from a freaking biased film maker. Get it from people who actually know what they’re talking about.

    The top 100 healthcare blogs is a good place to start:
    http://www.edrugsearch.com/edsblog/healthcare100/

    (full disclosure: I’m pretty liberal, but I think MM is a crackpot. I’ve seen all his movies except this one because I hate going to the theater these days).

  5. Well, Stu, I certainly haven’t gone through all 100 blogs yet, but glancing over the top 10, they either linked to, or posted themselves, the following:

    http://www.thehealthcareblog.com/the_health_care_blog/2007/07/policy-sicko-an.html

    http://www.joepaduda.com/archives/000941.html

    http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2007/04/michael-moores-sicko.html

    http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2007/06/sicko-other-side.html

    http://drgrumble.blogspot.com/2007/07/health-care-in-worlds-richest-country.html

    The “Kevin M.D.” ones are anti-Moore, and the other three are generall pro-Moore. And, for the record, the “Kevin M.D.” links and comments are sampling the likes of Michelle Malkin, a FOX News pundit that seems to be the second-coming of Ann Coulter…and he also samples the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post editorial pages, which are also generally right-wing…thus, I don’t really trust anything this guy posts on his blog (but I put it here in all fairness).

    So yeah, skimming through the stuff, I’m generally seeing that, yes, Moore takes liberties, but while he shows the best parts of the systems, he never outright says “this is the way all of Canada/France/England” views their health care systems… Even my boss, from Scotland, says that sure, NHS (in England) isn’t perfect and you’ll maybe have to wait a little longer for a hip replacement, but they’re choosy over life-threatening things, not non-life-threatening things. If you’ve got a heart attack, you aren’t going to wait in line for hours…you’ll get seen right away. It’s a priorities thing over there…

    I guess you should see the movie and see what you think. But I hardly think of France, England, Canada and Cuba as “small, wealthy countries” – if they can do it right, then why can’t we with our 300 million people?

  6. I wasn’t commented on the movie, only its premise. I’m pretty anti-theater these days, so it’ll have to wait until dvd release. Yeah, I could download it, but I’m lazy, and watching movies on my computer setup blows (no comfy chair).

    What I was getting at with the top 100 was “read their opinions on current problems they face”, not “read their opinions on Sicko.”

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