Michael Moore’s “SiCKO” Made Me Ill

Why You Should See a Doctor... in Cuba


Last night I watched “SiCKO,” Michael Moore’s new movie about universal health care. I can be skeptical and believe that the scenes were selected to exaggerate the superiority of foreign systems over that of the United States, it nevertheless makes a compelling case against privatizing the well-being of a nation’s citizenry.

Moore takes a long-overdue look at the corruption of the health insurance industry (which seems to have started when Nixon made a deal with Kaiser-Permanente, now the largest HMO). I heard the stories of people– now dead– who had been denied potentially life-saving care because of cryptic exclusions in their insurance contracts. I learned about “pre-existings,” or conditions that you had before you began your coverage; not only will most insurers not cover treatment of these pre-existings, they also won’t cover future ailments that could potentially result from this condition. Most terrifying, in some cases, insurers can refuse a claim if they can suggest that you should have seen a doctor before your coverage began, and that doctor would have diagnosed you with the pre-existing condition. Do you hear that? In other words, if you don’t have evidence that you were tested for every possible illness that you could have imagined that you might’ve had before you insurance began, those conditions can be labelled as pre-existing on a retro-active basis.

Canada gets its share of kudos, but even we could learn a thing or two from France, England, and even and Cuba. While we have basic universal health care, we still lag far behind many other countries.

In France, not only is all health care free, but doctors make free housecalls. New mothers can get a personal care worker for two days every week, for help with everything from baby care, to laundry, to meal preparation. Many more social programs are highlighted, but in the end, France comes off as a beacon of civilization.

Even Cuba shames the United States. Moore took sick 9/11 rescue workers there, heroes who can barely afford their meager treatments back home, and they received free, top-notch care in that enemy territory. At one point, a woman broke down in frustration when she purchased drugs that cost $120 in the US at a Cuban corner pharmacia for 5 cents.

After seeing this film, it’s hard to understand how any civilized country could justify leaving anything as critical as health care to private interests. It reminded me of a book by Joseph Heath called “The Efficient Society” that prescribed very clear conditions under which market forces would fail to provide efficiency to customers. Among the top two? Insurance and health care. Which is why the idea of private health care insurance should make you sick.

, , , ,

  1. #1 by gk - June 17th, 2007 at 22:27

    But!!! But!!! It’s the greatest country in the world!!!

(will not be published)

  1. No trackbacks yet.