Movie Review: Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’* - U2 Feedback

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Old 07-12-2007, 04:20 PM   #1
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Movie Review: Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’*

By Jennifer B. Kaufman

Two years ago I was mugged and beaten close to my home. I was just out of school, working a crappy temp job and woefully uninsured. But being a victim of a violent crime did have an upside. All my related medical bills were covered by a special Wisconsin program that pays the medical expenses of victims of violent crimes. I never had to worry about adding crushing medical bills to my student loan debt.

Now it’s two years later and I have a good job. I also have health insurance. If I get sick, suffer an injury or, heaven forbid, become a victim of another violent crime, I should be okay. My insurance will cover my expenses, right? Right?

The ordinary people in Michael Moore’s latest documentary, “Sicko,” thought they were covered by their health insurance, too. Then catastrophic illness or horrific injury struck them or a loved one. These people found themselves facing stiff penalties, sky-rocketing drug prices and sometimes, no coverage. And often they couldn’t get any help due to “pre-existing” conditions or “experimental” treatments.

Through interviews with these people, “Sicko” gives us heartbreaking and human stories and not dry, abstract statistics. These stories are living and breathing elements to a very real problem – America’s health care crisis. One middle-class couple, driven to bankruptcy by mounting medical bills, are forced to move in with one of their children. A woman tearfully recalls the passing of her beloved husband who was denied a life-saving transplant.

“Sicko” also features health care industry employees haunted by their experiences. One call-center employee falls apart as she recalls denying claims due to pre-existing conditions. Another talks about looking for discrepancies in an insured’s medical history to avoid payment. One of the most chilling scenes is of an insurance company-employed doctor telling the members of Congress how she would get bonuses if she denied someone special medical procedures and therefore saved the company money.

The health insurance companies aren’t the only bad guys. Not surprisingly, Moore points an accusing finger at our elected officials, most notably Senator Hillary Clinton. Remember when Senator Clinton was First Lady and tried to get us health care reform back in 1993? Well, now she’s one the largest recipients of health care industry donations. As for one of the Republicans who defeated health care reform, he’s now a very well-paid health care industry lobbyist.

After setting up the faults of the American health insurance industry, Moore shows us how state sponsored health care is done in other countries like Canada, Great Britain and France. Hospital waiting rooms are filled with happy customers, drugs are very cheap and doctors still make a great living. And in Great Britain hospitals pay for a patient’s mileage. One of the most intriguing moments is when Moore interviews American citizens now living in France. Free healthcare isn’t the only thing they get. Maternity leave, child care and several weeks of vacation are also considered rights, not privileges. When asked why they get these things from the French government, someone mentions that the government is afraid of the people, not the other way around, and the French are not afraid to march in the streets for what they want. This is definitely food for thought.

The most notorious segment of “Sicko” is when Moore takes some 9/11 rescue workers suffering from respiratory ailments to Guatanamo Bay. Via a bullhorn, Moore demands that they get the same healthcare as the “evil doers.” Not surprisingly, they are denied, so Moore takes them to a Cuban hospital where they get the care they so desperately need. It is this segment that is probably the most gimmicky and Michael Moore-ish.

However, not all sides of universal health care are examined in Moore’s documentary. “Sicko” doesn’t mention that someone has to pay for all of this “free” health care, usually through higher taxes. And I wouldn’t be surprised if hassles and red tape are involved in national health care systems.

Still, “Sicko” is an important movie. Health care is not a blue state vs. red state issue. It transcends all political stripes. “Sicko” is a movie that will make you angry, make you laugh, and make you cry. Certain scenes will stay with you long after the credits role. I’m still bothered by scenes of Los Angeles hospitals dumping indigent patients, many of them elderly, frail and mentally ill, onto the streets with no one to look after them.

But most of all “Sicko” will make you think. “Sicko” has the ability to start a dialogue on a basic human need and a collective responsibility to look out for all American citizens.

For more information about Michael Moore's "Sicko," please visit his official website at

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Old 07-12-2007, 08:13 PM   #2
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Watched Sicko last night. As a European living in Canada, I can only echo what Moore portrayed in his film. I've lived in Ireland, UK and Canada and have experienced the healthcare in each of these countries - Moore does not over-exaggerate in any way. The NHS in UK, OHIP in Ontario is that good!

Equally what is important is that life in Europe especially, has a lot more emphasis/value based on life rather than work. That is reflected in both the amount of vacation (25 days vacation is typically minimum) as well as EU regulations which are aimed at enhancing employees/workers lifes rather than designed to make companies richer. No one has a certain amount of sick days. If your sick, your sick and your covered. End of.

A happier person in their life, vacation, not having to worry about healthcare etc, will generally be more productive in their work, which in turn, more than compensates the employer.

As the film also mentions, us Europeans are more than happy to go on strike if we disagree with government policy. Sure, sometimes it doesnt work, and sometimes it does. However, what it does is raise public awareness and the issues in question so that the government is forced into some kind of response.

I don't know if strikes are common in the US these days, however what I will say, as an outsider looking in, its a country that preaches a strong freedom of speech, american dream-esque lifestyle, when in retreospect, its the nearest thing we have to a modern day Orwellian-1984-esque culture that Moore rightly in my opinion, is supported by fear and greed happily maintained by successive US governments.

I'm not the biggest Moore fan, but I do highly recommend seeing Sicko as its the healthcare systems highlighted in the film that give a powerful message about how the government and goverment policy truly values its citizens, and sadly, but maybe not unexpectedly, the US comes out in a negative light.

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Old 07-13-2007, 10:11 AM   #3
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I saw 'Sicko' as well, with my girlfriend, and a friend of hers... whom are both Canadian. The conversation spawned at various points of the movie usually included shock at the US system, as well as amusement and delight that they both were Canadian.

It's a sad state of affairs that Americans exploit Americans (as well as everyone else).
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Old 07-14-2007, 03:25 AM   #4
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So this sounds like a typical Moore flick...he never mentions how these well run systems are financed. He's good at raising your eyebrow but I've rarely read or seen him offer solutions.

If it's to raise discussion then great. Leave it up to yourself to research and make the right decisions. Decisions made from this movie alone would be incomplete and unfair.
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Old 07-14-2007, 04:06 AM   #5
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Originally posted by Lally1011
So this sounds like a typical Moore flick...he never mentions how these well run systems are financed. He's good at raising your eyebrow but I've rarely read or seen him offer solutions.
I don't think he needs to offer a solution......the solution is simple.....the people of USA need to have free* healthcare.

* Of course we all know that there is no such thing as "free" healthcare, that is why a public health system tax levy will need to be introduced to ALL Americans.

There is a downfall of having a Public Health System, long waits in Casualty but really this is because of peeps arriving by ambulance get seen to first *dang-hey!*and problems with triaging as there are peeps who for some un-known reason refuse to go to a GP ( within normal operating hours!), most medical centres are now equipped with X-Ray and pathology and are continuing to extend their operating hours, they are virtually like small hospitals and if you do need to go to hospital a doctor's letter/ambulance helps speed the process along.

But these problems can be managed by having 2 ER's ( 1 for adults, 1 for kids so they do not have to compete) and having a after-hours GP (bulk-billed) service at the hospital.
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Old 07-14-2007, 11:48 AM   #6
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I think, given the choice, most Americans would perfer to have an affordable and fair healthcare system that is available to ALL even if it means taxes are redirected from elsewhere. Taxes in UK and Ireland are not extortionately high to pay for the healthcare systems there.

Anyways, healthcare as it is in the US, should not be a money making business. It should be there for all members of society regardless of wealth. Thats the message I got from the film.
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Old 07-14-2007, 01:23 PM   #7
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^I agree with you I still need to see 'Sicko', but I have seen clips and most of Michael Moore's appearances promoting the film.
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Old 07-14-2007, 02:00 PM   #8
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Originally posted by Lally1011
So this sounds like a typical Moore flick...he never mentions how these well run systems are financed. He's good at raising your eyebrow but I've rarely read or seen him offer solutions.

If it's to raise discussion then great. Leave it up to yourself to research and make the right decisions. Decisions made from this movie alone would be incomplete and unfair.
I agree with you about Mike Moore in that sense. i haven't seen the movie yet but being Canadien I do know that the health care system is better in Canada. There are downfalls that Moore probably doesn't talk about though. Like lack of Dr.s and Nurses due to salary caps and low pay, very long waiting times at the hospitals, Dr.s must "interview" patients to see if they are worth taking because of low Dr. to patient ratios, if you need a life saving transplant you're probably not going to get it so you will need to go to the U.S. and pay full price. Also, possibly greater than 55% income tax to pay for the "free" health care.
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Old 07-14-2007, 10:44 PM   #9
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If you care about American health care, see Sicko

I just returned from seeing Sicko. I recommend it: It's not a perfect movie, but it will make you think about the state of health care in the U.S. and around the world.

Originally posted by Lally1011
So this sounds like a typical Moore flick...he never mentions how these well run systems are financed.
Yes, Moore did mention France's taxes pay for their government health care (and daycare, nannies, long vacations, *and* in-home laundry help). Granted, he didn't really say how high French (or UK or Canadian) taxes are, and he should have. That was one of the flaws in Sicko, along with dismissing the flaws of the Canadian health care system (supposed long waits for some treatments, shortages of some health care equipment, and Canadians going to the US for some of their health care).

Moore made an interesting point that we in the USA already have some "socialized" government services such as firefighting, cheap postal service and libraries. So why not have socialized health care someday? I don't know. However, our current health care system is expensive (even if you have good insurance), flawed, and leaves out too many people.
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Old 07-17-2007, 12:17 AM   #10
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I've always enjoyed Moore's documentaries. Sometimes he lets his own bias get in the way and decides to add to the story (as in "Bowling for Columbine"). But for the most part, his stories are truth - in fact, sticking to the truth is what makes a documentary so powerful.

"Sicko" is part of this category. I've long since thought about how Canada has this national healthcare plan, but must pay really high taxes. They do pay high taxes, but do you see homeless in Canada? Do you see people bankrupted from medical debts? My parents sold their home and bought another, with my sister. My mother kept some of the money from the home just in case she or my father ever get ill and their insurance doesn't cover it! How sad that they have to sock away money "just in case" after all those years of struggling. Even worse, if they really became ill, the money she put aside would probably only cover a fraction of the costs. Wouldn't it be nice is she and my father could relax in their latter years knowing that any healt issues would be covered?

America is the land of plenty - plenty of greed. Insurance companies don't want national healthcare - they'd be eliminated. Oil companies don't want electric cars. And God forbid we look into alternative sources of energy. But the American people are slowly getting smart. We may not rebel like the French (oh how I wish we would), but get enough people complaining and we finally get people looking once more at healthcare reform. We finally get hybrid cars (it's a start) with a promise of even more fuel efficiency in the future (plug-in hybrids that get even better mileage!). We get roads paved and we get schools opened. We just need to scream more.

Yes, our taxes may be higher - but I'd rather pay 50% of my income in taxes knowing that I never have to worry about my health benefits any more (and that I'd get GOOD benefits, as they do in Canada, the U.K. and France). I'd gladly pay this knowing that real research is going into better cars and more fuel efficient energy. Instead, we have a war that the majority of the people in this country do not want or support. We support our soldiers and are wildly upset that they are still fighting - yet we have a president who doesn't seem to care what the people who elected him think. Perhaps it's time we have another revolution - not with guns, but in terms of protests, who we vote for, and with science. I can only hope the next president is someone who actually thinks and listens. Eight years of utter stupidity and embarrassment is enough.
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Old 07-17-2007, 07:45 PM   #11
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From the Baltimore Sun

Look at health data, not propaganda

By Grace-Marie Turner

June 29, 2007

America's health care woes all could be solved with a government-run
universal-coverage system. Or so says Michael Moore in his new film, Sicko,
which claims that even Cuba's health care system is superior to ours.

Although it's easy to dismiss Mr. Moore as a radical propagandist, his
message is gaining traction in the policy community. The Commonwealth Fund,
a prominent health policy research foundation, has produced a new study
that also portrays government-run health systems as far superior to ours.

Unfortunately, the Commonwealth Fund study and Mr. Moore's film are based
almost entirely on anecdotal evidence.

Rather than use hard data for its study, the Commonwealth Fund report
relies on public opinion surveys to conclude that Australia, Canada,
Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom all provide better care than
the United States - and for less money. Patients and doctors were called
and asked if they were happy with the quality, access, efficiency, equity
and outcomes offered by their government-managed health care systems. But
phone calls do nothing to offer scientific data about whether these
nations' systems outperform the U.S. system.

Consider access to timely care. Britain has more than 1 million citizens on
its waiting lists for medical care, according to London-based Nurses for
Reform. In Canada, a study found that more than 800,000 citizens are in the
queue for medical procedures - and some will die, waiting for months and
sometimes more than a year to get surgeries or treatments they need.

In America, we're used to speedy service. So it's hardly surprising that in
a public opinion survey, we would complain about any wait at all. But
waiting lists like those in Britain and Canada would be a national scandal
here. We simply wouldn't tolerate it.

And what about access to the latest treatments? In government-managed
systems, bureaucrats and politicians decide which surgeries and new
medicines will be available. In Britain, for example, two new drugs for
kidney cancer are being denied to cancer sufferers because they're too
expensive, according to news reports. The Canadian government also refuses
to purchase newer drugs until they've been on the market for years. From
1997 to 1999, for instance, 100 drugs were introduced in America, while
only 43 of those drugs became available in Canada.

In the interest of national budgets, state-administered health systems have
an incentive to put saving money before saving lives. This affects more
than just drugs. Each year, shortages of funds, personnel and facilities
force the British system to cancel as many as 100,000 operations.

These shortages directly affect a nation's quality of care, yet the
Commonwealth Fund study neglects important comparisons of clinical
effectiveness among health care systems.

Consider cancer. In the United States, the survival rate is 90 percent for
patients diagnosed with Stage I colon cancer. In Britain, it's just 70

For American women diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer, 97 percent are
still alive after five years. In Britain, it's only 78 percent. Indeed,
when adjusted for age, U.S. cancer deaths have fallen 1 percent per year
since 1991.

The data show that if you are sick, the United States is where you want to
be. We spend more in this country on health care, and we get more medical
care as a result.

But look at America's outcomes, cry the Michael Moores of the world.
Despite the highest per capita spending in the world, Americans die
younger. On average, Americans live two years less than Canadians.

But life expectancy is affected by poverty, lack of education, obesity,
teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse and other unhealthful lifestyles,
and even homicide rates and traffic accidents. What people do or don't do
to care for themselves has a much bigger impact on the health of the
population than spending on medical care does.

America's health care system certainly has its problems, and we must do
much more to cover the uninsured. But if you judge a health care system by
how well it serves people when they're actually sick, America's is without

If Michael Moore's waistline ever puts him in the hospital for heart
surgery, it will be interesting to see where he goes for medical care - the
Mayo Clinic, or Cuba?

Grace-Marie Turner is the founder and president of the Galen Institute, a
free-market-oriented health policy research organization.
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Old 07-19-2007, 10:33 AM   #12
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I admit, despite my little diatribe above, that Moore's film glosses over a lot. I have spoken with people from Canada. While "Sicko" portrays people waiting 30 or so minutes for treatment in Canada or the U.K., while people wait hours and hours and hours in the U.S., in truth, people say that they can wait ages for real treatment - especially for serious diseases. Of course, their waiting isn't done in the waiting room - it's at home, hoping to get in to see a doctor.

However, the U.S. system is severely lacking because of big insurance companies. The same problems Grace-Marie Turner stated were issues socialized medicine (denied drugs, operations and payments) are issues here in the U.S., despite our "better medicine". I have two personal examples. In 1993, I had a small operation. This was very minor and for the sake of keeping the story on track, I won't go into details. The insurance paid for most of this - however, the anesthesiologist's bill was over twice what the insurance covered. The insurance simply stated, "He charged too much." and wouldn't pay. The doctor wouldn't back down. So I was forced, as a poor grad. student, to pay over half of this doctor's bill because the insurance company didn't agree with his rate. More recently, I had dental work done. The dentist had her associate do a VERY thorough cleaning - they called it a debridement. If you google this, it may give a definition of a procedure that sounds involved - but reall, it was just a good cleaning (perhaps the best teeth/gum cleaning I've ever had!). This deep cleaning restored health to my gums and even made my teeth look better! The insurance didn't cover it. This type of deep cleaning preventative care wasn't covered. Yet a coworker's wife has horrible gums and teeth. So bad that they will have to spend thousands and thousands in an attempt to save her teeth! The insurance will pay for that. So they won't pay for $190 preventative care, but they will pay $2000 (which is the maximum they will pay) to save gums/teeth? Had they paid this $190, this person might not need such extensive dental work now. But to them, this type of preventative care is not considered necessary.

My examples are mild, but indicative of the thinking of insurance companies. They decide - not the doctor - what treatment should be done, what operations are needed, what preventative care should be done. what drugs should be used, how much doctors and dentists should charge, etc. Wait - am I being treated by a doctor or by an insurance company?!?!

So before we start saying that the U.S. is really "all that", let's give this socialized medicine another look. Because what we have here in the U.S. isn't working. We are at the mercy of insurance companies - who decide rates, premiums, deductibles, treatment and drugs. Because of them, we are but a heartbeat from socialization anyway - why not normalize it so that ALL people can receive fair treatment?
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Old 07-31-2007, 06:03 PM   #13
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I've had similar issues with my dentist - they continuously try to pitch special treatments to me, but they're also good at letting me know that it isn't covered. Sometimes I'll pay the extra, other times I'll request that they perform only what is covered because in all cases, the covered service is all I need. The one exception is fillings - I always use bonds instead of silver/mercury based fillings so I pay out of pocket for that. This is a cosmetic issue so insurance companies shouldn't have to cover this.

Medically, I use the HMO because 1) I'm relatively healthy and 2) I know how the system works very very well. So when an issue comes up, I can usually stump the other party (the insurer, medical group, etc.) to the point of them being speechless.

Personally, I prefer the government not get involved with my well being. I believe that it's up to me to take care of myself so I'd look into a solution that give me some autonomy.

Pres. candidate Giuliani made some suggestions that I tend to lean towards.....

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