Sunday, December 30, 2007

SICKO: A Must See

Like him or not, Michael Moore has created a film that everyone can relate to and should take the time to see. With the recent release of the DVD version, Sicko is a movie that will shock and anger most Americans. Today, a majority of people seem to care more about Paris Hilton's imprisonment (Michael Moore was actually 'bumped' from Larry King Live recently in favor of Ms. Hilton!) or Lindsay Lohan's most recent crash and burn, but this movie relates to each of us. Don't trust what's said here. Go and rent it for yourself!

The movie is produced in classic Michael Moore style, combining heartbreaking, true life stories with snippets of relevant, informative, and sometimes humorous sound bites. The movie opens with the story of a uninsured man who had to choose between repairing his middle finger (at a cost of $60,000) or his ring finger ($12,000), which had been severed in a table-saw accident. Being a hopeless romantic, he chose the less expensive ring finger.

After recounting more tragic stories, Moore tells us that even though these stories are sad, the movie is not about them. The rationale of the film is to highlight the majority of Americans who have faith in their health coverage, and end up in financial or even mortal ruin, owing to the greedy opportunism practiced by today's health care providers and insurers.

Here are some eye-opening highlights that scream for attention and action:

- Countless accounts of unnecessary deaths resulting from bureaucratic red tape and denial of services.

- The premise that people who work for insurance companies are rewarded with bonuses and promotions based on the number of rejections of treatments they issue. He showcases the 1987 congressional testimony of Linda Peeno, a physician: "In the spring of 1987, as a physician, I denied a man a necessary operation that would have saved his life, and thus caused his death. No person and no group has held me accountable for this, because in fact what I did was save a company half a million dollars. ... I had one primary duty, and that was to use my medical expertise for the financial benefit of the organization for which I worked."

- The millions and millions of dollars contributed by pharmaceutical companies, HMO's, physicians and other health care professionals to elected officials in our government. The movie follows the old adage, "Follow the Money."

- The brainwashing of Americans into believing that socialized anything would lead to communism. Communism, long considered the evil of our times (Until terrorism!). Concurrently, Moore points out that socialized programs already permeate our society (fire departments, library systems, schools...even the post office), yet we've been led to believe that socialized health care is somehow evil.

- Moore places a spotlight on the health-care systems of three countries: Canada, Great Britain, and France. All three countries provide universal health care in one form or another. What is shown in these segments should be shocking to any American: cheap drugs, quality health care, incentives (to medical professionals in Britain) for prevention, free health care, doctors (in France) who are on call 24/7 for people in need of care (At no cost!), and many more benefits Americans may see as dumbfounding.

Of course, Michael Moore is known for his urgent calls to action. Some accuse him of exaggeration for his own benefit. He's often charged with skewing the facts to fit his viewpoint. These claims have merit, but that's Moore's strength. Sometimes one needs to embellish a story to call attention to it. Shock value gets noticed. Of course, health care conditions in these countries are not as bright as Moore depicts them to be, but analysis of these systems warrants consideration.

The benefits of health-care in some countries certainly rival or even overshadow those in America. When a person loses the financial worry that comes with a health crisis in this country, the opportunity to focus on recovery is heightened. America has long been a leader in many facets of modern civilization, yet with the health-care system in shambles, other sectors of society will inevitably suffer, as well. The US ranks 37th out of 191 countries (Behind Costa Rica.) The three countries portrayed in the film are also ranked ahead of the United States. France has the top system in the world (World Health Report, 2000.). The communist state of Cuba, host to one of the most controversial footage in the movie, ranks just below us, at number 39.

For any real change to happen, everyone must to see this movie. Don't wait for calamity to fall upon you or your family. Take your mind off Brittney Spears for two hours and pay attention!

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