My Life, The Universe and Everything

Truths I learn. Barriers I seek to break. Let me scream.

Sicko!

Posted by themischord on November 20, 2007

Excellent presentation. This is what makes me like Michael Moore. His presentation is precise and complete. The issue is investigated in multiple dimensions. In this context, I recall Chomsky’s word of advice on how one should not take information coming from any source (even credible ones) to be a fact without applying one’s discretion and own investigation. This obviously holds for such documentaries too.

The documentary explores the failings of the health care system in the US and the increasing shift of interest from the citizens to the insurance companies. He contrasts this with the socialized health care systems in Canada, UK and France — showing they are not a failure. And as always, he ends it with a brilliant plot (won’t spoil that for you).

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3 Responses to “Sicko!”

  1. dividebyzer0 said

    While I can’t really speak for the French and Canadian healthcare systems, for a completely different take on the British healthcare system, see part two of the three part BBC documentary “The Trap“. In this piece, BAFTA award-winning director Adam Curtis explores (among other things) how the British National Health Service was ruined under the Thatcher administration. The “public choice” mechanisms that Moore champions in his film actually led to a significant decline in social equality and stability for the British people. In order to serve the public interest, hospitals were encouraged to compete almost solely based on metrics. These public hospitals were often chartered by the government but run by private corporations.

    The example Moore uses about doctors getting bonuses for getting their patients to quit smoking compelled many doctors to “game the system,” offering incentives for their patients to lie about quitting. Hospitals had a financial incentive make all sorts of false claims about their progress, and the honest practices were left at a tremendous competitive disadvantage. Scrupulous hospitals and doctors wound up getting shut down or fired because the numbers of the less scrupulous were so much better. We see the same problem in the states when CEOs make huge bonuses for increasing the stock price from quarter to quarter: the competitive pressures of the system encourage and reward those who cheat. Curtis cites examples of hospitals scheduling surgeries on dates when they knew their patients were on holiday, so they could overbook their ORs and receive credits for procedures that were never performed. He also talks about hospitals hiring “Hello Nurses” that did nothing but greet patients at the door, which allowed them to claim that their patients were “seen” and reduce their average wait times while their actual queues were getting longer and longer.

    While I’m personally a champion of socialized medicine, the fact that Moore left out these pervasive criticisms, using statistics that were generally accepted as flawed by the British public, makes me question the objectiveness of the film as a whole. Moore had a chance to make a film which takes an honest look at public healthcare as a viable option for the United States. But instead, he wound up making which I consider to be the liberal equivalent of the O’Reilly Factor. Of course, if he did take a balanced approach, it’s likely that very few people would actually go see his films. We want to be angry. We want an easily-identifiable villain in our cinema. But all the theatrics come at a great social cost. The right will continue to listen to Bill O’Reilly and the left will continue to listen to Michael Moore and we’ll exhaust so much of our energy being angry at each other that we’ll have none left to find real solutions to legitimately hard social problems.

    On a completely different note, you should check out this deleted scene from the Moore’s film, which paints a near-utopic picture of Norway. I’m not going to lie. Norway, and most of Scandinavia for that matter, is pretty cool. And I think we should all move their once the US dollar bottoms out.

  2. dividebyzer0 said

    last sentence… s/their/there/g

  3. dividebyzer0 said

    watching the doc again… second sentence… s/Thatcher/Blair/

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