Saturday, June 30, 2007


I went to see Michael Moore's Sicko today. If you live in the United States, you need to see this movie because it is about your health care, or lack of it.

I expected the theatre to be packed but it was nearly empty. I guess people are much more interested in forgetting about their life struggles by watching some romantic comedy or a movie full of suspense and gore than to see what they may already be going through or what they might go through in the near future.

In typical Michael Moore fashion he jumps around from Denver to Los Angeles to Canada to London to Flint, Michigan to France, to New York and finally to Cuba just to name a few places. But the geographical jumps work and he surely puts reality in people's faces if there is still a soul out there who does not believe that
the health care system in the U.S. is in serious need of reform.

One of the strengths of this film is that Moore debunks the myth that if you work hard, put in your time at your job, and contribute to your community, you will be fine. WRONG. Moore gives examples of people who have worked all of their lives and raised children and now are left foreclosing on their house because of health care costs. Another sad example is a little girl who died because her mom's insurance was not eligible at the nearest hospital. Even 9/11 volunteers were left with health complications and no medical assistance not to mention examples of people without means being dumped in the street...

He also reverses the myths that the health care systems in Canada, Britain, and France give substandard care to patients. Preventitive care is encouraged and doctors don't have to think about cost when they care for patients.

I could go on and on, but I would like people to see the film. Many already know that our system needs an overhaul. It touches almost all of us including me who has what is considered to be somewhat decent insurance. Our deductibles are skyrocketing and some employees can't even afford to insure their kids on the plan. If I were to give a rough estimate, I would say that I pay $1000 a year in copays, predeductible costs, prescriptions and services like counseling that my insurance barely covers. And I am healthy. As far as I know, I don't have cancer, diabetes, or any other serious ailment. If you are a senior citizen or have health problems beware, you may be denied insurance or may have to pay huge monthly fees. For instance, I feel that my parents have to pay too much for health insurance. They are retired and on fixed incomes for goodness sake.

A friend of mine who is about ten years younger than me asked me, "Was this how it was for our parents, when they were raising us? Did they have to pay such high deductibles and co-payments?" My answer was no. They didn't. As historical memory fades we will no longer realize that our health care system has deteriorated. In addition, as our xenophobia and fear of other countries including France increases, we will be less likely to know that there is a better health care system available.

In the film, a former British cabinent minister or member of Parliament, I can't remember which, is interviewed. What he said that struck me most was that "Britain was a democracy, and because of this Britain has universal health care." He also said that when people are without hope and when they are afraid they do not stand up to their government. Our current healthcare system and the state of our social services in this country lead to hopelessness. So does a war that is just plain wrong. And we in the U.S. are encouraged to be fearful. I still remember those orange alerts in the airport when I was leaving the country for Lebanon and the ones I would see on television, when I had one. We are encouraged to be afraid because this keeps us from acting and allows Bush and his cohorts to stay in power.

The end of the film was my favorite part. They went to Cuba and the Cubans were so friendly and open. The fire department came to attention for the 9/11 workers. Next they were all hugging. As Moore said, if enemies can treat each other this way, what else can happen on a larger scale? "Me" has to be changed to a "we." Ending with Cat Stevens' "Don't be Shy" was also great. I love that song. I had to sing along:

You know love is better than a song
Love is where all of us belong
So don't be shy just let your feelings roll on by
Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there ...

I hope I didn't give too much away. But I think Sicko is worth seeing as long as you consider the reality it exposes. Moore's site has a list of links and organizations that are working on this issue. I also encourage you to keep reading and pressuring our elected officials to actually do something about this. If you have other thoughts or suggestions, feel free to include them in the comments. This way ideas spread and we can eventually create a world where everyone has access to affordable and excellent health care. We all deserve it.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like I should see this movie. Did he mention Hillary's ill-fated attempt to reform the health-care system? There was such a visceral condemnation of her attempts that I never even really paid attention to what her proposal contained.

I'm not sure about using Canada or Britain as role models, however. I have a physician friend who recently moved to Canada and I know he has had to be "satisfied" with doing less than what he knows is appropriate because of the system up there. And I put satisfied between quotes because I know it's a huge struggle for him emotionally.

But thanks for the review. I guess I'm one of those people who would rather not think about difficult choices, and hence would rather go to that romantic comedy!


margaret said...

Yes, please see it and if your friend from Canada can, even better. Moore has a tendency to rouse people but to capture that which will cause reaction not just the moderate view.
I have heard too many stories of people struggling economically because of healthcare. My own staff struggles, I know. As I make more than they do, I can pay the difference. But them? I know how much they make and what their expenses are.
I think there is a need for reform, definitely. What that looks like, I am not sure.