“Sicko” – A review

I recently watched Michael Moore’s diatribe on Healthcare in the US and around the world. As someone who has experienced the British National Health Service first-hand, I feel that I have something to say on this matter.

The first few minutes of the movie sets the stage:

  • Democrats Good
  • Republicans Bad
  • Cheney+Bush Evil
  • Hillary is The Messiah…

Sorry Michael, but your politics are showing. I almost gave up on the movie at this point.

Fortunately, it gets better once Michael moves beyond politics and points out that real change in this country will not be possible as long as Big Medicine (Doctors and Hospitals), Big Health Insurance and Big Pharma are running the game. That is a good point, but he has no solution.

Moore then takes us on a trip around the world, looking at the healthcare systems in Canada, France and Britain. He makes a big deal about the fact that these countries all have free healthcare, but conveniently sidesteps the fact that they fund their health systems with additional taxes. Instead, he looks at the lifestyles that doctors lead in that country (cars, houses etc), which is a bit of a red herring. He makes a big deal that a Doctor in London lives in a half-million-dollar house while forgetting to mention that London is the most expensive city in the world, where the cost of half-way-decent housing starts at a quarter-millon and goes up from there. The same Doctor living in New York City would also live in a Half-Million Dollar house. Your point, Michael?

Even worse, he also conveniently forgets to point out that Canada, Britain and France have long-term problems with funding their health services. An economy that produces little and provides services such as pensions and healthcare will tax its producers until they give up or leave, at which point the economy will collapse. Ask me how I know.

When it comes to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), Mr. Moore is either being disingenuous or he is not paying attention. He mentions that Doctors are paid by the number of patients they have on their books, and get bonuses for getting people to stop smoking, but he fails to mention that the doctor is penalized for sending patients to hospital. He also forgets to mention that some surgical procedures have waiting lists that are months or years in length – and when the Government set guidelines limiting the time spent on those waiting lists, the Doctors were forced to use unofficial waiting lists to get onto the official ones.

He forgets to mention that many drugs and treatments available to patients in the US are unavailable to NHS patients — because they are too expensive. He also forgets to mention the number of people each year who die while waiting for treatment from Socialized Healthcare. It is clear that Michael is not interested in telling the whole truth; just the side of it that fits with his preconceived notions (socialized healthcare=good, free market=bad, even though almost all new innovations come from free-market economies) . Given the choice between dying because I cannot afford a life-saving treatment and dying because some Government Bureaucrat thinks I’m not worth saving, I’ll take the former every time.

Riddle me this, Michael: Who do you trust more: Big Medicine/Pharma/Insurance or the Government? Given their proven track record with Medicare, Social Security and the Post Office, do you really want to trust them with our health as well?

Yes, the Canadians, the British and the French have Socialized Healthcare that works — for now. But they have their limitations, which you have cleverly avoided facing head-on. And if we do what they’ve done, we’ll get what they’re getting.

Does this mean our system is perfect? No, but the simple fact is that we cannot afford the Medicare that we have in the long term; we certainly can’t afford Socialized Healthcare for everyone else. The only solution that will work involves getting one or more of the players involved to take a pay cut. Good luck with that…

The good news is that the US has the best healthcare system that money can buy.

The bad news is that the US has the best healthcare system that money can buy.

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