A PICTURE OF HEALTH
Michael Moore's new movie, Sicko, is an extremely
important movie that should be seen by everyone
A large portion of the film is devoted to health insurance and
the denial of coverage for medical problems. There are many vignettes of people who thought they had coverage, and the
consequences that ensued. There are also many revelations from insurance insiders that show the effect of healthcare
delivered with profit motives. Fifty percent of bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical expenses.
18,000 people die from lack of insurance and some 46 million people do not have health insurance.
In 2005, healthcare
cost more than $6,000 per person and consumed over 16% of the gross domestic product. The next closest country, Switzerland
spends $4077 per person per year or 11.5% of its GDP. All other countries spend much less. The United States has
the most expensive system in the world, and by most measurements of health performance, it falls behind all of the major industrialized
countries in the world. The United States alone treats health care as a commodity to be delivered according to ability
to pay rather than as a social service to be distributed according to medical need.
Life expectancy in the United
States is 78 years ranking 45th in the world. The US infant mortality rate is 6.37 per 1000 live births, higher than
almost all other developed nations as well as Cuba.
Rising costs with limited access is a major factor
in our declining overall quality. While many people struggle to get health care, United Healthcare recently gave its
retiring CEO $1.3 billion in stock options as well as over $5 million a year in salary benefits. Sicko
also touches on other areas of soaring costs including the pharmaceutical industry (big pharma) and hospitals.
aggressive money making tactics of hospitals are revealed. Most disturbing was the dumping of patients from a hospital
to skid row. The phenomenon of dumping or rejecting patients and referring elsewhere has gone on for a long time.
Numerous laws have been made which have helped to curb this for the most part. Not much was said about other system
costs such as physician services, liability, or the diminishing returns for expensive technology.
The last part
of the movie was spent on healthcare in other countries including Canada, England, France, and Cuba. His presentation
of health care in these countries was the source of much media criticism. While it might have been ambitious to present
health care in other countries, the inescapable fact is that countries with national health insurance are generally healthier.
If I were to criticize the movie at all, I would say he "pulled his punches". As a healthcare "insider",
I know that many of the problems to which he alluded were much deeper and more serious than presented. As we look to
change the situation, I believe people need to realize the role of money and corruption in our political system. The
profiteers in health care are very powerful, and their influence was shown in Sicko. Most recently in Oregon, the insurance
industry foiled the efforts of Dr Kitzhaber to get through a bill related to providing health care for everyone.
I know understands and agrees that the current health situation is terrible. Many people have different views on the
causes. After viewing Sicko, we must now acknowledge the brutal facts. Our obligation is to eliminate the inequities.
Only a comprehensive single-payer national health program will do this.