Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sicko is Socko!

I have mixed feelings about Michael Moore, but I've really enjoyed his last few documentaries especially Sicko.

I've been lucky - I really don't have health insurance horror stories. I have been jerked around a little by insurers, and I've had some prescribed drugs denied. But I've always gotten the care I've needed. However, I've heard so many other health horror stories from so many other people that I know Michael Moore is right. It was such a relief to NOT see your health insurance mentioned in Sicko!

I had a very brief interaction with National Health Insurance when in Scotland in 2005. I developed laryngitis and that set off my asthma. As my asthma is usually not a problem, I hadn't thought to bring an inhaler with me and I really needed one. So I went to a nearby hospital under my own speed on a late Saturday afternoon. It took less than an hour to see a doctor. He checked my throat, my lungs and wrote me two prescriptions. It almost took longer to get the prescriptions filled than to see the doctor. The medicine cost somewhere around $10 or $15 total and the doctor didn't cost me anything. Even though I was just a tourist, and even though I certainly could have afforded to pay something.

The most horrifying thing in Sicko (beyond watching an uninsured man sew up his own leg after injuring it) was watching sick, homeless people dumped in Skid Row in Los Angeles near what seemed to be some sort of homeless shelter. It's appalling that we treat sick people like that in the "richest" country in the world. We must be pretty poor in spirit to treat our own people so poorly.

I thought Moore's taking of the 9/11 rescue workers who were getting inadequate health care in America to Cuba was one of the most brilliant pieces of propaganda I've ever seen. In this case, the propaganda was quite accurate - we're so used to seeing false propaganda (particularly from the Bush administration) that we sometimes fail to recognize it when it's true.

While Moore kept pounding away at "free health care," he only briefly mentioned that taxes pay for "free health care" in other countries. Health care is in no way free. However, I suspect if he'd shown a few pie charts that combine the taxes + health care costs for a typical family in America, and compare that against the tax costs for a typical family in England, France, Canada, you'd find those combined costs to be lower for the folks with universal health care.

I think Moore has probably just won another Oscar for documentary.

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