Sunday, July 01, 2007

I Saw Sicko

In the comment section to Roy's Mental iPhone post, Rach asked if we've seen Michael Moore's Sicko.

It wasn't on this weekend's agenda, but hey...Okay, so I couldn't resist (-- someone actually wants my opinion!!), and for Rach, I spent Sunday evening watching Sicko. My husband left the Red Sox with a tie score for this.

Okay, so Sicko. Michael Moore starts with the statement that he thought health insurance companies want to help people, and he's had this unnerving revelation that they want to make money. He has no trouble finding examples of people who've been denied coverage for the lamest of reasons (too fat, too thin, too too), or those who've been denied at the mercy of mis-managed care. He finds ex-industry employees riddled with guilt who pour tears. He villainizes everyone from John F. Kennedy, Jr. to Hillary Clinton (yup) to George Pataki. He finds people who've been dumped in the street by hospitals, delirious and still in hospital gowns, as well as Ground Zero heroes with no access to health care. It's one heart-wrenching sob story after another.

Where's it any better? What's the answer? Socialized medicine. It's better in Canada, England, Cuba, and even Guantanamo Bay, where the ratio of prisoners to health care workers is 1:4 and state-of-the-art-care is readily available. France doesn't just have great free health care where doctors make house calls in cute little vehicles, but workers get 100% disability pay, weeks and weeks of vacation, months and months of maternity leave, and the government sends out free nannies to do your laundry and cook dinner. Why would anyone live here if they could live there? And don't worry about physician reimbursements with national health insurance: the French doctor drives an Audi and lives in a million dollar home.

So what did I think? Gosh, it was nice of Rach to ask!

I guess I thought the story was one-sided. It sounded like no one in the US, even the well-insured, is happy and everyone is screwed by the health insurance companies who are digging into every last health record to deny the last surgical claim because the insured didn't reveal that once upon a time they'd had a yeast infection. It's not hard to find unbelievable health care stories, and Mr. Moore didn't seem to have any trouble trumping them up. I've heard them too (none involving dead children), but I've also heard people say their illnesses were completely covered without any battles, and that part of the story was not mentioned.

Sicko was engrossing, entertaining even, thought-provoking, rage-provoking, and there were several laugh-out-loud moments. Michael Moore is nothing if not clever. Is socialized medicine the answer? To read Dr. Crippen's NHS Blog or Shiny Happy Person's rendition of life working in the NHS, there's another story to be told. My opinion would be a random one. I've no experience in this arena, and I'd love to hear from our readers in Canada, Great Britain, France, Cuba, and Guantanamo Bay.

We all know the system's broken. I hope Michael Moore's sensationalized presentation will help to change things.
For the record, Psychiatry was totally ignored in Sicko. One Ground Zero hero had PTSD, but this was presented as a dental problem (he ground his teeth). Maybe in Mr. Moore's next movie?