Michael Moore’s SiCKO misses facts.?


Michael Moore’s SiCKO misses facts.

Michael Moore’s new movie, SiCKO, should be called “SKiPO,” since it skips over so many vital facts en route to government medicine.

An engaging and surprisingly funny Moore explores a grim topic: America’s problematic health-care system. Moore effectively diagnoses one of its key ailments. HMOs and other managed-care companies often earn billions by just saying, “No” to victims of grave illnesses. Moore introduces us to real men, women, and children who this industry has failed.

Bankrupted by cancer- and coronary-related medical bills, Donna and Larry Smith move into their grown daughter’s home storage room. An Oregon man accidentally saws off two fingertips and must re-construct either his middle finger for $60,000 or his ring finger for only $12,000. Tracy Pierce waits for his insurer to approve a promising bone-marrow transplant to treat his kidney disease. The company refuses, and he soon dies, widowing his bride, Julie, and leaving Tracy Jr., 13, fatherless.

These are the bitter fruits of America’s private, third-party-payer system. Not quite socialist, not quite capitalist, it creates endless distortions as review boards and other gatekeepers essentially hide doctors from patients.

Moore and other universal-health advocates would exacerbate this problem by making Uncle Sam the ultimate third-party payer.

While promoting this prescription, Moore overlooks many facts that would balance his otherwise well-crafted film. For now, its leftward tilt makes the Leaning Tower of Pisa look like the Washington Monument.

Milton Friedman observed, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Sadly, there’s no such thing as free health care, either.

Universal health care’s finances must come from somewhere. “Somewhere” turns out to be taxpayers’ pockets.

Britons, Canadians, and Frenchmen purchase their “free” coverage through their taxes. In America, 44.7 percent of health expenditures came from tax-funded government spending in 2004, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In Canada, that figure was 69.8 percent; while in France it was 78.4. Fully 86.3 percent of British health spending was taxpayer-funded.

These countries also endure high overall tax burdens, largely due to government medicine. In 2005, OECD reports, taxes as a share of GDP stood at 41.2 percent in Canada, 41.9 percent in Britain, and 50.9 percent in France. America has it relatively easy, with just 31.7 percent of GDP devoured by taxes.

Of course, for many Americans, the trade off is lower taxes vs. higher payments for health insurance. This cost varies according to employment contracts, health circumstances, and more. Still, “free” medicine is as beautiful and realistic as a unicorn.

Moore claims 50 million Americans lack health insurance. The Moving Picture Institute’s Stuart Browning challenges that oft-repeated “fact.” In a case of dueling documentaries, Browning’s nine-minute film, Uninsured in America, deconstructs the more common “45 million uninsured” soundbite and finds that 9 million of these people earn over $75,000 annually and can buy coverage but don’t. Some 18 million are healthy, 18-34-year-old “young invincibles” whose priorities exclude insurance.

“If I’m out eating, I want to eat good food,” Faye Chao, 26 and uninsured, told Browning. “There’ve been times I’ve been in New York, and I’m spending at least $800 a month just going out.”

These Americans also turn to local clinics for treatment when necessary.

For instance, Chandra Nalaani, 27 and uninsured, visited San Francisco’s Lyon-Martin Women’s Health Services.

“I got an annual exam,” Nalaani said. “They tested me for a bunch of things…In my case, because I wasn’t making much, it was free.”

Of the uninsured, 14 million fail to enroll in Medicaid and other low-income health programs for which they are eligible.

Even if these numbers somewhat overlap, Browning estimates that just eight million Americans chronically lack coverage. Moore’s 50-million-man standing army of the uninsured thus is a Potemkin force.

While Moore glows like a Jack-O-Lantern about the wonders of the British National Health Service, Gordon Brown sees massive room for improvement. Just days before becoming Great Britain’s brand-new Prime Minister, Brown told Labour Party colleagues on June 24:

From everything I have seen going around the country, and from everything I’ve heard, we need to do better, and the NHS will be my immediate priority. We need to and will do better at insuring access for patients at the hours that suit them. We’ll be better at getting basics of good hygiene and cleanliness right. Better also at helping people to manage their own health. Better at ensuring patients are treated with dignity at all times in the NHS. Better at providing the wider range of services now needed by a growing elderly population. And while implementing our essential reforms, better at listening to and valuing our staff.

Moore’s insinuation aside, HMOs are not solely the brainchild of that oft-flogged bete noir, Richard Milhous Nixon. In fact, the HMO Act of 1973’s sponsor was none other than Senator Edward Moore Kennedy (D., Mass.). In 1978, as the Institute for Health Freedom recalled, Kennedy sang HMOs’ praises:

As the author of the first HMO bill ever to pass the Senate, I find this spreading support for HMOs truly gratifying…HMOs have proven themselves again and again to be effective and efficient mechanisms for delivering health care of the highest quality.

HMOphobes, including today’s Ted Kennedy, somehow fail to mention that HMOs once were the Left’s answer to America’s earlier medical challenges.

SiCKO dramatically features a man stitching shut a deep cut on his own leg. Though he lacked insurance, this was unnecessary.

“Every American hospital is required to provide emergency care to all comers, regardless of ability to pay,” says Cato Institute healthcare analyst Michael Cannon. The 1986 federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act makes such services mandatory for anyone arriving within 250 yards of a U.S. emergency room.

Thus, a trauma surgeon would have sutured this man’s wound. Yes, the hospital either would have absorbed this procedure’s cost or spread it across the bills of the insured (another cause of medical inflation). These cross-subsidies notwithstanding, he would have received professional treatment.

Moore shows Michiganders driving into Canada for “free” medical attention. What he leaves unseen are the Canadians who come to America for treatment. Canada, along with only Cuba and North Korea, forbids its citizens from paying doctors for private medical treatment. In a kind of therapeutic Underground Railroad, Vancouver’s Timely Medical Alternatives, Inc. helps Canadians avoid lengthy medical waiting lists by arranging for their treatment in American hospitals. It says its clients can be operated on within seven days through its U.S. partners rather than six to ten months under Canadian government medicine.

“Five or six years ago, seven out of ten Canadian provinces, representing roughly 95 percent of the population, had contracts with American companies for cancer care provided in the United States,” says the Manhattan Institute’s Dr. David Gratzer, a Toronto physician. “Today, some patients from over-subscribed Canadian urban medical centers are sent eight hours away to underused rural medical facilities for cancer care, much like someone going from Manhattan to Buffalo for chemotherapy.”

Another drawback of high-tax-funded “free” government medicine is its limited modern technology. Cato’s Michael Cannon and Michael Tanner found that in 2000, there were 13.6 CT Scanners in America per million people. There were 8.2 million such devices per million Canadians and 6.5 per million Britons. Lithotriptors use sound waves to pulverize kidney stones and gall stones. While America had 1.5 of them per-million citizens, Canada and Britain had, respectively, 0.4 and 0.2.

The paucity of such equipment creates lines and delays. Vancouver’s Fraser Institute estimated a median wait in 2006 of 4.3 weeks for a CT scan and 10.3 weeks for an MRI.

SiCKO’s most revealing footage captures Moore’s pilgrimage to Karl Marx’s grave in London’s Highgate Cemetery. Single-payer countries “live in a world of ‘we,’ not ‘me,’” Moore says. “We’ll never fix anything until we get that one basic thing right.” Moore deserves credit for being so amazingly candid about his ideas’ truly socialist roots.

Still, a major conundrum haunts this clamor for the kind of government medicine that would make Marx misty.

While workers theoretically would own the means of medication under universal care, in reality, politicians would be in charge. The same liberals who denounce FEMA and Walter Reed Army Medical Center (a single-payer showcase) for their embarrassing incompetence want Uncle Sam to conduct bypass surgeries, deliver babies, and perform vasectomies.

How puzzling. America has just one federal government. Sometimes the sensitive, caring, weepy Democrats run things; Sometimes the cold, racist, iron-hearted Republicans rule. Universal health care would mean that American medicine — from the Left’s perspective — now would be in the scheming hands of those who “lied us into war” and gleefully drowned poor blacks in New Orleans’ attics after Katrina. If Hillary Clinton had nationalized health care in 1993, American hospitals and clinics would be controlled today by Dr. Dick “Double-Barrel” Cheney and his boss, Chimpy McHitler, M.D.

If that doesn’t shiver the timbers of government-medicine supporters, they should visualize Dr. Rudy Giuliani with a scalpel in one hand and the universal health-care budget in the other.

Unless America scraps elections and simply yields power permanently to bleeding-heart Democrats, Michael Moore’s fans should remember that every two to four years, universal health care could fall into the clutches of cruel Republicans.

Government-medicine boosters could rue the day their collectivist dream came true.

20 Answers

  • Mike H
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I saw SiCKO Fri night and it was pretty amazing. It showed the 9/11 rescue people who were called heroes by Bush and Giuliani but now they need health care from the injuries and problems they got working on ground zero. Why won't America take care of our heroes????? That's the question we need to answer. Also how can every other country like us give everyone health care and why can't we?? We need answers to these questions. See the film!

  • The devil in American and Canadian Health Care Systems is that they both profit from disease, and repeat visits.

    Contrary to what Mr. Moore believes (I e-mailed him on this) is that while Canada has a government pay system, the services provided are still in the private sector. (this is contrary to the political rhetoric, and the misconceptions of the Canadian system)

    The USA is ranked 36th in the world, Canada 30th, just behind Columbia, however Italy and France are in the top two and seldom if ever mentioned.

    You see the business of treating disease, and or symptoms leads research and treatment away from simple cause and effect.

    Many people with intestinal problems are labelled with a disease, ie IBS, Crohns, may develop MS or Cancer.

    Yet a simple wide spectrum anti-biotic, or herbal treatments for parasites would avoid all the symptoms, and all the treatments, which are billed per visit.

    Truth can lie...when it is part of the truth.

    The key to resolving this is to get Big Business to understand that a healthy population will spend more on GM products and Microsoft products.

    Let us find preventative cures, the current system does not want that, since it would bankrupt them.

    Caesar J. B. Squitti

    H. B. Commerece

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    What's so terribly sad is that in the richest, most technologically advanced country on the planet, it takes a documentary film maker to point out the obvious - our medical system is pathetic. Who here hasn't had an atrocious experience with their insurers or medical providers? Who here has never had a relative or friend with catastrophic medical bills?

    Surely there is no better example of the success of corporate welfare and corporate corruption of government than the American health care industry. American taxpayers dole out billions each year to subsidize medical research and what happens with the results? They're dutifully handed over to private industry.

    I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I can actually handle the lunacy of the bible thumpers and even the warmongers - but for Christ's sake, when are people WITH NO VESTED INTEREST IN DEFENDING THE WELFARE OF THE MEDICAL INDUSTRY going to wake the **** up? Either you're rich or deluded!

    And all you right-wing libertarians with your "free market" delusions are a bunch of selfish pigs. The free market works great ... at the local swap meet!

    But the rest of the world is just a little bit too complex for such a narrow minded approach - a fact I'm sure isn't lost on you. The difference is you let your avarice and market fundamentalism (that's right, you're cut from the same filthy, illogical cloth as the bible thumpers) cloud your thinking.

    Thank you Michael Moore - YOU and millions of other people whose names are unknown to the masses are great Americans!

    The flag-waving reactionaries and corporate apologists represent everything that is wrong with this country. Insurance companies and HMOs are totalitarian in structure, with little accountability to anyone! And when they're shoveling wads of cash into BOTH the Republicans and Democrats' campaign coffers, why would anyone in their right mind expect change? It's time to hold people accountable! And yes, that includes YOU Senator Clinton!

    Christ, I need a drink.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    what percentage of the GDP does medical spending take up?

    you compare tax to the GDP... but you are skipping over the fact that all those countries have MANY more social programs than the U.S. and spend much more on them... it's a much greater difference than just health care... which you clearly imply...

    compare apples to apples.... not apples to oranges...

    now... is his movie fair... and does it show both sides? not really...

    but you're (well, not you but whoever wrote this) is not exactly being fair either... and is doing, ironically, the same thing Moore does... spinning facts the facts that seem to agree and hiding those that may not...

    and there are different types of social health care that have varying levels of governmental involvement... the writer totally ignores this fact as well... instead choosing to demonize it with a "government bad" approach...

    and Republicans could afford to do many cuts, if such a plan was enacted... the public simply wouldn't allow it... since most of the public would use the plan...

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I saw that movie and damn..all I can say is i'm moving out of the U.S. I used to think we had a pretty good life. But our government is so curupt. Whether Moore misses facts or not..you HAVE to admit, health care in the united states is sad and pathetic. Old wrinkly CEOs and chairmen are making billions more while people who are deserving of proper healthcare are dying. Makes me think money is the root of all problems.

  • 1 decade ago

    Nice little speech where's the question. If you want to simply make a deceleration or state your views this isn't the place for propaganda.

    I found the movie excellent myself, it is about time America woke up to the way they are getting totally ripped off by HMO's, the Gov't and the Pharmaceutical industry.

    A nation is judged as to how it looks after it's very young, very old and people who are unable to look after themselves...how does America stack up...38 or 39th in health care, with a infant mortality rate higher than third world countries, with the elderly unable to pay for the medicines they need...hello people this is disgraceful!

  • Hgldr
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    My answer is to 1. allow TOTALLY tax free health-savings accounts and, 2. make it illegal for hospitals to charge more for cash paying patients that the bargained cheaper rates they give to insurance companies.

    Now, to make it more "free economy" freindly, hospitals should give even cheaper rates if you sign a waiver that you won't go and sue them. I want me finger re-attached? OK, just charge the $4k or $5k that it actually costs for doctors, staff, and overhead for 3 hours of care, fix my finger, and I'm out of there.

    Oh wait, big problem with my plan. There's no method how to give insurers and attournies a big cut of the pie.

  • 1 decade ago

    USA, we got crooked Doctors and crooked Health Insurance companies

    while everybody else got free health care.

    Not fair.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Sicko is a great movie, they shot over 40 hours of footage, but had to cut it down to two. Sorry, but Moore is trying to make a documentary, not make a analysis on tax burdens or the nuances of government managed medical care.

    While some of what you say may be true, the facts can speak for themselves, Moore's movie is full of facts. And the fact is the for-profit healthier system kills thousands of Americans every year simply because of HMO bureaucracy.

    Here is another fact, France has the best health care system in the world, America ranks 37.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    i just want to say ......

    come on ....let's just faced the true!!!

    ok? america health system sucks!

    god give us life..that's a privilege ..and america system think can controll even what god give us...in good

    and in a very patetic way .................

    once let's just be" honest "and not "blinde" !

    be patriotic doesn't mean "all included '

    hope you know what i mean !!

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