Saturday, December 01, 2007


Whether people love or hate Michael Moore, I don't care. Some issues should be so important to a society that they are out of the grasp of politics-as-usual. Moore points that out in Sicko, his documentary on the state of health care in this country. And like with all Moore films, I can't stop thinking of the movie, even days after I've seen it.

In my opinion, the guy's a hero in addition to being a terrific filmmaker. Here are some reasons why:

Infant Mortality: (MSNBC) -CHICAGO - America may be the world’s superpower, but its survival rate for newborn babies ranks near the bottom among modern nations, better only than Latvia. Among 33 industrialized nations, the United States is tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly 5 per 1,000 babies, according to a new report. Latvia’s rate is 6 per 1,000.

Life Expectancy: (USAToday)-WASHINGTON — For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles. Countries that surpass the U.S. include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands. "Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries," said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. A baby born in the United States in 2004 will live an average of 77.9 years. That life expectancy ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier, according to international numbers provided by the Census Bureau and domestic numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Medical Care For Children: -(Census Bureau)-The proportion and number of uninsured children increased between 2004 and 2005, from 10.8 percent to 11.2 percent and from 7.9 million to 8.3 million, respectively.

Health Care Costs Continue To Rise: -(NCHC)-In 2005 total national health expenditures rose 6.9 percent -- two times the rate of inflation. Total spending was $2 trillion in 2005, or $6,700 per person. Although nearly 47 million Americans are uninsured, the United States spends more on health care than other industrialized nations, and those countries provide health insurance to all their citizens.

One of the most important points Moore makes in Sicko is: countries that provide medical care to citizens across the lifespan carry out the service under the concept that a healthier society is more productive, effective and cheaper to care for than one that's unhealthy. Socialized medical care, then, is caring for the future of the country as much as it is caring for the immediate health needs of the individual.

American health care views patients in much the same way as any other profit earning business in modern times:

Fix the problem as cheaply and as quickly as possible, and move on the next widget.

When big business tries to save a dollar on labor costs, I sometimes have to return items to Wal-Mart because the all the parts I need aren't included in the package. It's annoying and time consuming, but nothing more serious than that.

When big business tries to save a dollar in health care, people die.


Donutbuzz said...

Moore certainly polarizes people, which can be a good thing because it at least gets the discussion going.

The Film Geek said...

He certainly is that, and I think it is a good thing, at least in this issue. I wish more people talked about it in hopes of changing the problem, rather than simply accept it and going along with life as is.

All Click said...

I wrote an email to Spike and he talked at length about this topic on one of his Rage Machines. I wonder if America is capable of changing it's health care practices. I fear that there is just too much money tied up in it. Recently a friend of mine was refused the drug her doctor prescribed her, by her insurance company! Obviously they know better than the doctor...they didn't even offer a generic, they just flat out refused.

Rebecca Burch said...

I haven't seen "Sicko" yet, but I am impressed with the majority of his work. I think that sometimes he can state facts out of context, but he definitely makes a point --usually one that needs to be made.

I'll have to pick up "Sicko" now.

Spike Nesmith said...

As a longtime Moore fan from the days of TV Nation and The Awful Truth, I have to admit that I was more than a little disappointed in Bowling and F9/11, as I felt he had moved away from his snarky, sarcastic and funny roots. But, as AllClick mentioned (hey - I have a listener!) I am a big supporter of a nationalised healthcare system and have seen first hand that the care given by that and the care given by a private system are more or less identical; particularly in an emergency situation. I defended Moore and his editing practices - after all, what documentary DOESN'T have an agenda? What documentary DOESN'T set out to prove a point?

I've not seen Sicko, but it's definitely on my 'to do' list. Although it may have to wait until I pay off my plethora of medical bills or I may end up killing someone.