‘Sicko’: A triumphant rallying cry

Thu, 07/05/2007 - 3:46pm
By: Michael Boylan

It is almost certain that you have an opinion of filmmaker Michael Moore and that opinion has likely been colored by your political leanings. Films like “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11” were movies that struck a chord with liberal audiences, but Moore has made his most universal, and best, film to date. No matter how you vote, “Sicko,” will move you, hopefully into a waking position.

The United States is the only country in the western world without free, universal health care, our infant mortality rate is alarmingly high and our entire health care system ranks 37th in the world, which totally goes against our, “we’re number one” mentality. “Sicko” examines our system and gives the viewer a sneak peek into the systems of Canada, France, England, Guantanamo Bay and Cuba and the U.S. system is sorely lacking in comparison. There are many reasons for this, as Moore points out, pointing some large fingers at pharmaceutical and insurance companies and their lobbyists who finance the campaigns and political careers of our government leaders, both Republican and Democrat.

In previous films, Moore has taken center stage and been a main character of sorts, rabble rousing with the people he wanted to take down and embarass, but the target in this film is a cold, beauracratic system and all Moore needed to do was to ask people for their health care horror stories and turn on the camera. The people are average Americans, too, people who could be your neighbors or fellow parishioners at church. So many of the stories will break your heart and incense you at the same time. How can someone get an ambulance ride pre-approved prior to an obviously unplanned head-on traffic collision? Why can’t any hospital treat an 18 month old with a temperature of 104 degrees?

There are no good answers. In Moore’s look at the systems in other countries, he attempts to dispel rumors that plague the thoughts of “free health care” or “socialized medicine,” and to an extent he succeeds, but it probably isn’t the whole story. That’s O.K. though, because the overall point of “Sicko,” isn’t “let’s just do it like the French,” but rather, “let’s do something better than what we’re doing.” Americans pride themselves on helping each other out when help is needed. It’s what we did after 9/11 and Katrina and what we do after people are struck by any tragedy, but tragedies happen every day in our current health care system and sometimes the tragedy is that American citizens get stuck in the mire for the rest of their lives. It shouldn’t happen here. We’re number one, right?

Please, cast aside your political dogmas and catch this film, either in theaters or on DVD. I promise it will capture you, anger you, move you and make you shake your head and laugh. After all, laughter is the best medicine.


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Submitted by swmbo on Sat, 07/07/2007 - 9:56pm.

There was something qualitatively different about this film when contrasted with other Michael Moore films. There were a few of his standard sophomoric pranks but overall "Sicko" is more mature than Moore's previous films. To be candid, I think the film says, "We have seen the enemy and the enemy is us." It was, at once, sobering and enlightening.

I agree with Boylan. Put your political beliefs aside and see the film. Then, let's have a serious, national discussion of what we want in health care, as taxpayers and as a country.

If you and I are always in agreement, one of us is likely armed and dangerous.

Submitted by McDonoughDawg on Sat, 07/07/2007 - 2:14pm.

That's for sure.

Pass the kool-aid and let me have my FREE health care.

Submitted by dawgfan1 on Sat, 07/07/2007 - 12:41pm.

Mr. Boylan,

I had the opportunity to read your recent review about Michael Moore's latest movie, Sicko. I haven't seen the movie so I can't really comment on it specifically. However, I would like to address your choice of words in the following statement you made,

"The United States is the only country in the western world without free, universal health care"

There is nothing "FREE" about universal health care. Where do you believe the funding for this would come from? Taxpayers of course. And seeing that the top 50% of wage earners in this country pay nearly 97% of the taxes, it's a safe bet that these are the people who would carry the added expense of having a universal health care system.

We do have a form of universal health care in this country. It's called Medicare/Medicaid. I really don't know how much knowledge you have of the Medicare/Medicaid system, but I would suggest you talk to most any doctors office or hospital administrator about the reimbursement rate of this "universal health care" system. You will find that it pays pennies on the dollar for the charges filed. Furthermore, more and more doctors are starting to not accept Medicare as a form of insurance. This means the patient must pay for the visit out of their pocket (assuming they want to see this specific physician) and then be reimbursed by Medicare (at a much lower amount than what they paid for the visit). What does this mean for the average person? It means less access to care.

While there are definitely areas for improvement for our current system, I am not a fan of entrusting my care to the government. Politicians have not shown me an ability to do anything efficiently. You mentioned the other countries cited in the movie for having universal health care. Are you aware of their tax burdens, lack of specialty care, wait times for specialty care and the state of their economies? Also, there are some states in the U.S. that require that a carrier must accept a person for coverage regardless of their health. Do you know that the cost of that insurance is 3 times as much as it is here in Georgia? State mandates also drive up cost of insurance premiums. For example, a law was recently passed in Arizona that requires insurance carriers to cover the cost of the new HPV vaccine (this is the vaccine that supposedly prevents a girl from getting HPV). Anytime a carrier is required to pay for a benefit, it is passed on to the consumer (as it should be).

"FREE" universal health care is a fallacy. There is nothing "free" about it. It will cost some of us more tax dollars, less access to care and less research and development. I'm not willing to pay that price for something that's "free". Are you?

Submitted by skyspy on Mon, 07/09/2007 - 6:40am.

I lived in England and their "free health care"? stinks. First of all you can forget a Dr.s appt. People were lined up in the street outside our towns "free" gov. provided Dr.s office. They were lined up because he only worked 4 hours a day. Sure you could show up and wait and wait and wait and it was free...... the office was dirty...but it was "free".

The "free" hospitals were even worse. The family I was staying with had a relative in the hospital with pneumonia. The patients were kept in long rooms with 25 beds in each room. No privacy, not clean, and very loud. The only thing I have ever seen like it was the hospital on the MASH tv show. Not pretty. I made a vow not to get hurt or sick while living there. Just last year another member of the family needed surgery for something, not cancer, but something that would have been taken care of within days here......they waited several months before they could move up the "list".

We can't take care of everyone. There isn't enough money or resources to go around. We can't all live to be 100. It stinks that some go without. It really stinks that the fatcat CEO's of the insurance compaies are millionaires, and deny claims with impunity.

I usually don't work overtime anymore because almost half of goes to the gov. Why should I work harder, so that we can give away free health care to illegals, and people who don't want to work at all?

There is no free lunch in life.

Submitted by teetaw on Sat, 07/07/2007 - 2:34pm.

Go see the movie and see how it is with our major allies and notice that its pretty great how their system works, and see how convoluted and terrible ours is. I am not really going to argue the topic point by point with you, because I've learned how totally idiotic it is to arguing on the internet, but I reiterate you should go see the movie because it addresses most to all of your concerns.

Submitted by dawgfan1 on Sat, 07/07/2007 - 8:09pm.

First, do you really believe the movie does not have a bias and is skewed just a little. Everything we do has our own beliefs attached to it. Michael Moore's movies are no exception.

Secondly, I stated our system could be improved, but at what cost? Assuming you are in the top 50% of wage earners in this country, are you willing to pay more in taxes so that we have a universal health care system? Do you think it's fair that the same services may cost a person 3 times as much than the next person? For example, let's say you go to Longhorn's. Do you think you should pay twice as much for the same meal as the next person? Of course not. That would be insane. Yet, that is exactly how our current tax system works. So to add a universal health care system to the annual bill to taxpayers (top 50% of wage earners) is unacceptable to me.

Thirdly, what is it about Medicare that leads you to believe our government can manage a system 6-7 times larger than the current Medicare system? I just don't have that much faith in our government. Medicare and Social Security are a huge albatross that can't be sustained in it's current format without increasing taxes or cutting benefits. Now you're saying we can add a system with 6-7 times the number of people. Again, at what cost? What is it about our government that makes you think this can be accomplished without burdening only half of the country? Last I checked we were only guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nowhere is health care a right. Just my two cents.

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Submitted by maximus on Sat, 07/07/2007 - 10:16pm.

Excellent posts! But if you think you can talk any sense at all into teetaw or dollar you better make sure YOUR health insurance is up to date, particularly the care for stroke victims. The only mind changing going on will be the rupturing blood vessels in your skull.


Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Sat, 07/07/2007 - 1:03pm.

I don't want to try and put any words in your mouth, but I do have one question that would be helpful to me if you could answer.
Is it your intent to leave the system as it is then?

Submitted by dawgfan1 on Sat, 07/07/2007 - 8:25pm.

You need to re-read my post. I clearly stated that our system could be improved upon. I just don't think the government is the answer. When people start talking like that, it reminds me of a passage I read about the rise and fall of a Democracy (while the US was not intended to be a Democracy, it is what we have evolved into). The quote is as follows:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."

"The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From Bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage."

One of the key sentences is, "A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury."

That is exactly what is happening in our country. We have become so dependent on the government to solve all of our problems that we often take no responsibility for ourselves. That doesn't mean that we can't improve upon our current health care system. But again, more government is not the answer. We are quickly moving into the dependence phase which means our next step is bondage. Not a place I want to be.

Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Sun, 07/08/2007 - 6:21am.

Maybe wealthy people should pay more for an expensive steak than a poor person?
Health care is different. It is uncivil to allow someone to suffer when it can be stopped.
It is a historical fact that we will always have the poor with us for whatever reason. To say they deserve to suffer because they weren't as aggressive as we were is wrong.
Your circle of progress leaves no way out, does it? Those that have want it to remain wherever it is.

Submitted by dawgfan1 on Sun, 07/08/2007 - 9:10am.

I never said the poor should suffer so don't go implying I did. The poor in our country have health insurance. It's called Medicaid. Based on my experience, we have many in this country (and yes, right in our own back yards) who go without health insurance because they say they can't afford it. Yet, they live in a $250k house, drive $60k worth of automobiles, eat out 3 times a week, have cell phones, cable, internet, etc. It's not that that person can't afford it. It's that they aren't willing to sacrifice any of their luxuries to pay for it. Then they gripe and complain about the system. How about we have an even playing field? How about we all pay the same percentage of our income in taxes? What's wrong with that idea? Whether you make $30,000 or $300,000, let those people pay the same percentage. The one that makes more still pays more, but isn't burdened with picking up the entire bill of the federal government. That way everyone pays into the system. Not just half of us.

Just out of curiosity, do you have any idea what it takes for a person to be in the top 50% of wage earners in this country? It's not a lot. Here's a link so you can see for yourself. No since in taking my word for it.


No one has yet to explain to me what it is about our government that makes you think they would be efficient at running a nationwide health plan.

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