Sunday, July 01, 2007


It's embarrassing to be in a country that commoditizes people's health. Health care should be fundamental. For the price that we pay, we should have the best care possible. Instead, by any objective accounting, we have some of the worst among civilized (and some not-so-civilized) countries. This is one of the issues that Michael Moore's new film, SiCKO, addresses.

From Why Michael Moore's SiCKO is a health care documentary every American must see:

... The drug companies, surgeons, medical specialists, health insurance companies and private hospitals are making out like bandits, raking in multi-million dollar CEO salaries and -- I'm not making this up -- greater than 500,000% markups on prescription drugs. And while the American people get sicker, the drug companies, insurance companies and many health "care" providers (it's really more like "sick care providers") are rolling in cash. Drug companies are now among the richest corporations in the world, and they got there by inventing fictitious diseases, then selling drugs to people who mostly don't need them.

... the health care corporations actually have a plan to keep people sick. There's no money in preventing disease, especially in the cancer industry ... American Cancer Society's refusal to help prevent 77% of all cancers using affordable, scientifically-proven vitamin D supplements.

... Moore shows us the universal health care systems in countries like Canada, the UK, France and even Cuba... all countries where health care is free to everyone. It's called universal health care (or "socialized medicine"), and it's a system followed by nearly every modern nation in the world... and even some not-so-modern nations. Only America practices medicine in the Dark Ages, tied to a hopelessly corrupt system of financial exploitation and monopoly price controls, where Big Pharma gets richer, the FDA gets more powerful, and the American people get the shaft.

Some would say that socialized health care discourages good doctors. It does the exact opposite. Doctors that are freed up from having to deny care are actually allowed to do what they got in to medicine to do -- care for patients. American doctors are forced to be bureaucrats that choose patients based on money. We have a whole medical system that seems to have forgotten the Hippocratic Oath -- to do no harm. As the movie shows, foreign doctors are happy and well-compensated.

And I've had about all that I can take from the John Birch types that preach (literally) about the scourge of Communism and socialism. Would you accuse Great Britain or Canada of being Communist? Is the U.S. Communist because it has a police force, fireman or libraries that are not privately run? Certain functions of society should not be outsourced. Drugs and health care for profit does not encourage people to go for care when they first get symptoms. It does not encourage preventative health care.

The right wing messiah, Ronald Reagan, even starred in propaganda films trying to scare people about how "socialized" health care is one step from Communist Russia: Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine. Thank you, Joseph McCarthy. Conservatism is a movement that has become as insidious and dogmatic as that which it hates so much. Great ideas should be evaluated on whether they work, not on whether they fit into your narrow little ideology.

SiCKO, I believe, is not a partisan (at least not in the political sense) film and calls out Democrats (specifically Hillary) as much as Republicans. But it's not really about politics. It's about calling out a society that talks about our caring and compassion while doing the exact opposite. We will care for you only if you have money and even then we will give you half-ass care.

Even those that don't like Michael Moore should see this film. It emphasizes the positive aspects of Moore -- his humor and compassion -- while limiting that which some who don't like him might call strident. It's most effective when it focuses on real-life victims of our system. The people documented actually have insurance. You could have a whole other film on the 50 million that are not even covered. I believe SiCKO will go a long way towards bringing the subject of universal health care into the public forum.Grade: A+


Laura said...

I definitely want to see this. I certainly agree with every point - medical care should not be something that is profitable. I do not want my health or the health of my family to be determined by actuaries and insurance adjusters. I don't want some pencil pusher to tell my doctor what her choices are for treating me based on what will make the insurance company lose less money.

Health care (and I include preventative care in this too) is something that every citizen has a basic right to.

It is sickening that in the richest country in the world we still have people dying of diseases and conditions that, had they had access to basic medical care and preventative healthy options (nutrition, education, healthy air/water) could have been prevented if they could have just afforded medical coverage.

Now, yes, you can say that a government run system might, given limited resources, make choices as to the most "deserving" (i.e. who would get the new liver a 13 year old poor kid or a 60 year old, rich, drunken rock star?). Hmmm... The one the government would pick is different than the one our current system would benefit. Maybe that's the real issue - those who would actually benefit from a socialized system are usually NOT the rich fatcats who benefit from our current system. Money would no longer be able to buy you better health. We'd all be brought to an even playing field - and in a fake meritocracy - that's unacceptable.

shrimplate said...

Even the Reagans had to sell their ranch to pay for Ronnie's healthcare after he developed Alzheimer's disease and fractured his hip in a fall.

A family with average resources would have been bankrupted.

CyberKitten said...

Not knowing much about your Health care system.... If someone needs a life-saving operation but is too poor to pay for it... is it done anyway and either the State pays or does the ex-patient pay on an installment type process?

We pay for perscription drugs (at least those in work do) but I find the idea of paying for necessary treatment (as opposed to things like plastic surgery) to be quite bizarre. How can people 'afford' to be ill?

Scott said...

How do they 'afford' to eat?

We already have socialized health care; that's WHY it's so expensive. Putting more government into the process won't make it cheaper for everyone, it'll make it more expensive and ultimately more bankrupt which is the track we're already racing towards.

dbackdad said...

CK -- Thanks for the input. I knew you'd have a first-hand and accurate appraisal of universal health care.

Concerning the poor, in most cases, you will not get that operation. If you wait till you are on death's door and then go into an emergency room, you might get the operation. And then the hospital will hound you the rest of your life for the payment. But also, you may wait in the emergency room for hours and die there ... which has happened a lot.

Scott -- how predictable. We don't have socialized health care and the care we do have is expensive because of special interests, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. Please see the movie and then respond.

CyberKitten said...

There's a lot of argument over here about the cost of (pretty much) universal health care. The cost of drugs to the National Health Service (NHS) is a regular news story - with people campaigning for the new drug they need to be available on the NHS (in other words 'free' to them). Sometimes the drug is added, sometimes it isn't.

Interestingly one drug company offered its anti-cancer treatment to the NHS with a money back offer. If the patient fails to recover then the NHS pays nothing for the treatment. How bizarre is that?

For years now we've had scare stories that the Health Service is on the edge of financial collapse. I don't know how true that is but it does manage to limp along year after year. There's lots of waste and managerial incompetence but that's not exactly unique to any organisation. I'd certainly rather have our system than yours!

Laura said...

Scott: No, we have socialized healthcare only for the very poor or those otherwise unable to pay for it themselves... if that system were properly funded and administered (i.e. if everyone had a stake in seeing it function properly rather than just the poor and powerless) it might actually be beneficial.

Our federal employees have a state-managed healthcare plan and they get great care. You can't point to county hospitals as they're funded now and say "look that's what we'd all have" without taking into account that if everyone had a stake in making it work better, you bet your butt it would be better managed.

Scott said...

We don't have socialized health care.

Sure we do, it's called Medicaid and Medicare.

Please see the movie and then respond.

Oh come on, what is propoganda now how we are going to form all of our opinions? I can't have a thought till Mike Moore tells me what to think? Screw economic science, Mike Moore made a movie!

dbackdad said...

Scott -- I realize Moore is not von Mises, but indulge me. I suggested that you watch the movie so that you wouldn't just reject it's concepts out of hand because it was Michael Moore or because you heard it talked about "socialized" health care. You are obviously intelligent and would be able to respond point by point to items in the movie. I didn't decide that I'm for universal health care because of Michael Moore. I've been talking about it for my entire adult life. I've seen first hand within my own family how our current health care system is leaving people behind. I've had family members die because they didn't receive the proper preventative care and because they were nickel and dimed every time they needed an operation. I've seen my parents skip medicines because of the prohibitive cost. This isn't some cause du jour for me.

Anonymous said...

Gonna see it this weekend. Thanks for the post.

Scott said...

The problem is the only two options we have now are the system we have or give the whole thing to the State. There's no option to take it from them, but then there never really is, is there?