Sicko – An Angry Review

Posted: July 25, 2007 in healthcare, tv & movies

Last Friday night my wife and I saw the movie Sicko, by filmmaker Michael Moore. I really did not know what to expect from this movie. I only know that I really enjoyed Bowling for Columbine and Farenheit 9/11, and was willing to see whatever new movie he released. In fact, from the billboards and the title, I really thought this movie would be another “Bush Bashing” or “Administration Bashing” type of movie.

I was surprised to see it really focuses on an incredibly important issue…healthcare. The movie is not about Republicans or Democrats, nor does it delve deeply into who’s to blame for our nation’s healthcare debacle. It simply makes a very strong point…many other countries in our world provide FREE, universal healthcare to ALL of it’s citizens. Why can’t we?

I don’t care if you personally don’t like Michael Moore. This is one documentary you need to see. It’s gotten consistently strong reviews as a movie. You can check out this one from Rolling Stone magazine, or this one from EOnline, or this one from the Boston Globe. What you’ll find in most reviews are people saying this is probably Moore’s best overall movie to date. He tones down the political rhetoric and really focuses on the issue at hand. Sure, he over-emotionalizes a little, and stretches a point or two a little to far. But the movie is funny, maddening, serious, emotional, and somtimes truly unbelievable.

Here’s the hard part. The movie really, really has got me ticked off. I don’t want to give up too much subject matter, because you need to see it for yourself. But here’s the kicker: Canada – FREE healthcare for everyone. Great Britain – FREE healthcare for everyone. France – FREE healthcare for everyone. Cuba – FREE healthcare for everyone. Moore shatters some preconceived notions that Americans have about the universal systems. “Doctor’s make little money in universal healthcare” (wrong). “The quality of care is just not as good” (wrong). “You have to wait forever to get anything taken care of” (wrong).

In probably the most talked about part of the movie, Moore actually takes a group of sick Americans – some of whom are suffering because of their involvement in the 9/11 clean up and rescue missions – to Cuba. While there, these people receive totally free healthcare services and free prescription medications. One women breaks down crying when she receives several boxes of a respiratory medicine for free….the same medicine she has to pay $100’s of dollars for in America.

So why am I ticked off? (I hope no one from some secret government search engine reads this) I’m ticked off because this movie has really added to my dislike of the country in which I live. I’ve begun to wonder (and not only because of Sicko) whether America is really the nation in which we are expected to believe it is. It’s the “land of the free”, but there are many free industrialized nations in our world now. Is America really that much better of a place to live than Canada, England, France, Italy, or Australia? Would it not be a stetch to say that in many industrialized nations, people probably actually have MORE freedoms than we do?

Capitalism used to be a term that would invoke pride in Americans. We all have the opportunity to do well in life because of the opportunities capitalism provides. But isn’t capitalism now polarizing and in some ways destroying our nation? Every year, the majority of Americans who declare bankruptcy do so because they cannot pay their medical bills.

In Sicko, Moore goes to a pharmacy in Great Britain. In Great Britain, at every pharmacy, no matter what medicine you purchase, it costs 6 pounds, or roughly $10.00. ANY medicine. Doesn’t matter if it’s 30 pills or 90 pills, ibuprofen, viagra, or amoxicillin, the prescription costs $10.00. A heart medicine that would cost a senior citizen $200.00 to buy here….$10.00 there. How’s that for capitalism? Here’s a country we consider to be an ally, possibly even a contemporary. And if you live there, you pay NO medicals costs (ever), and any prescription you need costs $10.00. Here, hundreds of thousands of people go bankrupt each year because of these same needs.

As you can see, I’m mad. I often joke with my wife about moving to Canada. I’m always half-joking and half-serious. Of course, it would be difficult to do, since ALL of our family are in the Kentucky/Tennessee area, and we would have no jobs lined up. But there are so many times when I wish we had the courage to just do it. It seems to me that America has devolved into a place controlled by egotistical power, political polarization, greed, money, fear, endless laws, and even manipulative suppression. It’s where I live. I’m pretty confident it’s where I’ll always live. But it’s become almost impossible for me to take pride in that fact, and Sicko is just a small part of it.

  1. Anonymous says:

    who do you think pays for all the “Free” healthcare? People need to get up off their butts and start working. The government needs to step back away from healthcare and people need to start taking care of themselves. If they can’t, that is where churches and christ followers should come in.

  2. Anonymous says:

    One question, what is the last disease canada or great britain has cured? Sometimes the free market system is what motivates the research to create all the great medicine.

  3. jason says:

    I completely understand both points. I’m trying very hard not be some ignorant fool on the subject. However, what good is the research if it’s totally unaffordable to the masses? If a person has cancer but loses house and home to be cured, do we consider them better off because of it? Frankly, I firmly believe our governments brings in more than enough money already to fund a free system…it’s just that they spend it in a plethora of ways that most citizens couldn’t give a crap about. I think all we really want the government to help provide is the ability for all working citizens to be able to live decently, healthcare, good schools/education, and safety.

    Unfortunately…and I do not mean this in any unpatriotic way, because I have the utmost respect for our military men/women…our position as the “superpower” of the world means that we spend enough money on defense/wars/miliary to fund a free healthcare system multiple times over.

    Thanks so much for the feedback!

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