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Thread: Nothing funny about ‘Sicko’ - a healthcare system in shambles

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    Exclamation Nothing funny about ‘Sicko’ - a healthcare system in shambles

    An Opinion Piece:
    Nothing funny about ‘Sicko’
    Gitmo prisoners get better medical treatment than Sept. 11 rescue workers
    COMMENTARY
    By Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.
    MSNBC contributor
    Updated: 5:09 a.m. PT June 28, 2007

    A number of reviewers have described "Sicko," Michael Moore’s new documentary film about health care in the United States, as funny. It isn’t.

    Sure there is a chuckle or two to be had. You have to smile when Moore uses '50s-style anti-communist film clips to mock the fear-mongering American politicians engage in whenever the subject turns to "socialized" medicine, or when he is bellowing through a bullhorn while bobbing in a boat in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, begging for the same level of health care for workers injured in Sept. 11 rescue efforts as we afford the evildoers locked up in maximum security at Gitmo.

    But "Sicko," which opens nationwide Friday, is not funny. It is tragic. You should not come out of the movie theater smiling. You should leave angry. "Sicko" is right on target about the mess that is American health care.

    Moore's critics would like you to believe "Sicko" is slicko. Those with vested interests in preserving the current status quo in health care have already activated their lobbyists, media flacks, think-tank mouthpieces and trade organizations to go after Moore and his movie. There are nearly $2 trillion worth of vested interests out there in insurance, managed care, hospitals, doctors, advertisers and salespeople looking to keep their share of the health care pot of gold.

    But there's no disputing the key flaws in our system that "Sicko" makes abundantly clear: Nearly one in five Americans doesn't have health insurance. And even those with insurance often face incredible and sometimes lethal hurdles to adequate health care — from crushing out-of-pocket expenses and co-payments to snail-like bureaucracies unresponsive to the needs of their clients (usually by design in the hope that they simply go away).

    As if that's not trouble enough, your doctor may be motivated to deny medical care as he climbs the corporate ladder. Your employer could go bankrupt and leave retirees high and dry. Insurance companies may deny your claim and drop coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    And when insurance payments dry up, hospitals have literally tossed patients onto the street. "Sicko" tells these stories irrefutably and grimly.

    Paying more for less
    Worse, if that is possible, Americans pay more for this mess than anyone else in the world for health care — and we get less for our money. Despite our love of the free market, the rest of the industrialized world delivers care to more of its populations with much more economic efficiency than we do. The only parts of the U.S. health system that approximate the efficiencies of Canada, Germany, Singapore, Australia, France, the Netherlands and Sweden are Medicare and the Veterans Affairs hospital system. Moore goes so far as to visit Cuba to show that even those under Fidel’s dictatorial thumb have easier to access health care than many Americans.

    Why do we put up with a broken, bloated, bureaucratic and increasingly barbaric health system? Because your politicians are in the thrall of the people who profit from it. And just enough of us have access to a fairly decent level of care that the misery of the uninsured, underinsured and tapped out does not move us to care.

    And Moore doesn't get into this, but even if you have great health insurance, don’t get comfortable. You, too, could be getting the runaround or finding yourself on the outside looking in unless reform comes to American health care.

    Will boomers bankrupt the system?
    Baby boomers are getting older. And while it is chic to babble on about 50 being the new 40 and for 60-year-old women to grab the headlines by having babies, the fact remains that this group is entering into old age, a time of heavy reliance on health care.

    A system that barely can get by dealing with chronic illnesses and the demand for long-term care will soon be tipped over by an entire cohort of geezers who, no matter how religiously they jog and or how much pomegranate juice they drink, will use health care to a degree never seen anywhere in the world at a price that, if nothing is done, will bankrupt the country.

    The boomers are partly to blame. They built a health care system to suit their medical needs when they were middle-aged. We have some of the finest acute care hospitals in the world for treating heart attacks and transplanting organs. But we are not prepared to deal with long-term care, home care or hospice, a lack of health care personnel willing to work in these settings and the complete absence of insurance to pay for most of what you need when you are old, disabled or both.

    Not only will the ranks of the elderly be exploding but we'll also soon see a rise in genetic testing. More and more of us will find out that we are at risk of various ailments. This means your insurance company and HMO will have even more tools to use to figure out how to chop the risky off their rolls.

    Moore has it right in "Sicko." American health care is in serious need of rehaul and repair. Ignore the bleatings of those out to discredit Moore by saying he is too flip with his depiction of health care in Canada or France, who chafe at his cheekiness in noting that we guarantee imprisoned terrorists better health care than we do our own sick neighbors, or that he never says that many have to wait 18 months in England to get a hip replacement.

    No one in Canada or France would even contemplate exchanging their systems for our health care mess. Prisoners do enjoy a more meaningful right to health care than many Americans. And while you may wait a long time for a new hip in England, a fair number of people in the U.S. will never get that hip replacement because they cannot pay for it.

    If you think Moore is exaggerating the woes of the health care system and if you think — as his often bought and paid-for critics charge — that he is just a sloppy, overfed left-wing ideologue, then go down to your local hospital emergency room or nursing home and tell it to those waiting there for care and compassion. Except for luck and a few ticks of the clock, they might be you. If Moore’s call to action is not heeded, such a visit tells you all you need to know about what awaits you in terms of health care in America. Nothing funny at all about that.

    Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

    © 2007 MSNBC Interactive
    URL: Nothing funny about ‘Sicko’ - Breaking Bioethics - MSNBC.com
    This is kind of OT and personal but my moms always saying to me that when she and my dad die that we'll be rich and bla bla bla, I dont really care about an iheritance (its a long ways off in my mind) and of course I dont look forward to them dying, but in the back of my mind I really dont believe her anyways b/c I know that its quite possible that they can live another 40 to 50 years and that takes money and lots of it when it comes to elderly care facilities and the medical bills alone for the elderly. My grandfather and uncle who just passed last year both nearly bankrupted their wives b/c of the facilities they were in and they were only in them for a couple of years. I think our system is broken and I'm thankful that my parents will most likely be taken care of w/ their own $ if insurance doesn't help, but its so sad the alternative that so many others have to go through and its not right imo when we live in the kind of country we live in; that shouldnt be the case!

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    Elite Member Picara's Avatar
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    I know I'm going to come out of this movie angry. Especially when he shows how healthcare is in other countries. I hope this movie has some impact but I'm doubtful. It's such a huge mess with so much money at stake for certain factions, I can't see it getting better in my lifetime.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    I know I know, thats why I still haven't seen the Al Gore movie about our environment and thats why it took me so long to see Farenheit 9/11 b/c I knew how angry both films would make me!

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    Elite Member JamieElizabeth's Avatar
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    ^^ I've wanted to see the Al Gore film also, As with this movie, its good timing and change is slow on many of these issues we're lacking in the country. Maybe our culture will become integrated some day, health care being one of these processes.

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    Elite Member JamieElizabeth's Avatar
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    ^^ I've wanted to see the Al Gore film also, As with this movie, it is good timing and change is slow on many of these issues we're lacking in the country.

    Maybe our culture will become integrated some day, health care being one of these processes.

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    Elite Member SweetPea's Avatar
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    This is really sad because I think people watch these movies feel bad for the moment and go on. I wish it wasn't so and that even a small group of people would start the fight that has to happen. We can't go on this way. Insurance is an arm and a leg and if you don't have it you can't get anything done for your arm or leg.

    Years ago, my grandparents took care of the elders when they were ill without long term care facilities because they had a caring and stay at home daughter or daughter-in-law. Now everyone is forced to work to get the insurance that they will someday need because no one is available to take care of them. Now it's all dollars and cents with the doctors, insurance, hospitals, you name it.
    Into the sunrise. The sunset is sad to me….it only means the night is coming.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    this is the same w/ all insurance companies; I had a nitemarish experience and am still going through it w/ a car insurance company. they're all crooks imo.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    More Facts:



    Analysis: 'Sicko' numbers mostly accurate; more context needed

    Story Highlights

    • Analysis: Numbers cited in "Sicko" are accurate for the most part
    • Assertions could use more context to flesh out comparisons of health care
    • Health-care experts focus more on film's errors of omission than incorrect facts


    By A. Chris Gajilan
    CNN
    (CNN) -- Michael Moore's "Sicko," which opened nationwide Friday, is filled with horror stories of people who are deprived of medical service because they can't afford it or haven't been able to navigate the murky waters of managed care in the United States.

    It compares American health care with the universal coverage systems in Canada, France, the United Kingdom and Cuba.

    Moore covers a lot of ground. Our team investigated some of the claims put forth in his film. We found that his numbers were mostly right, but his arguments could use a little more context. As we dug deep to uncover the numbers, we found surprisingly few inaccuracies in the film. In fact, most pundits or health-care experts we spoke to spent more time on errors of omission rather than disputing the actual claims in the film.

    Whether it's dollars spent, group coverage or Medicaid income cutoffs, health care goes hand in hand with numbers. Moore opens his film by giving these statistics, "Fifty million uninsured Americans ... 18,000 people die because they are uninsured." (Review: "Sicko" a tonic despite flaws)

    For the most part, that's true. The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say 43.6 million, or about 15 percent of Americans, were uninsured in 2006. For the past five years, the overall count has fluctuated between 41 million and 44 million people. According to the Institute of Medicine, 18,000 people do die each year mainly because they are less likely to receive screening and preventive care for chronic diseases.

    Moore says that the U.S. spends more of its gross domestic product on health care than any other country.

    Again, that's true. The United States spends more than 15 percent of its GDP on health care -- no other nation even comes close to that number. France spends about 11 percent, and Canadians spend 10 percent.

    Like Moore, we also found that more money does not equal better care. Both the French and Canadian systems rank in the Top 10 of the world's best health-care systems, according to the World Health Organization. The United States comes in at No. 37. The rankings are based on general health of the population, access, patient satisfaction and how the care's paid for.

    So, if Americans are paying so much and they're not getting as good or as much care, where is all the money going? "Overhead for most private health insurance plans range between 10 percent to 30 percent," says Deloitte health-care analyst Paul Keckley. Overhead includes profit and administrative costs.

    "Compare that to Medicare, which only has an overhead rate of 1 percent. Medicare is an extremely efficient health-care delivery system," says Mark Meaney, a health-care ethicist for the National Institute for Patient Rights.

    Moore spends about half his film detailing the wonders and the benefits of the government-funded universal health-care systems in Canada, France, Cuba and the United Kingdom. He shows calm, content people in waiting rooms and people getting care in hospitals hassle free. People laugh and smile as he asks about billing departments and cost of stay.

    Not surprisingly, it's not that simple. In most other countries, there are quotas and planned waiting times. Everyone does have access to basic levels of care. That care plan is formulated by teams of government physicians and officials who determine what's to be included in the universal basic coverage and how a specific condition is treated. If you want treatment outside of that standard plan, then you have to pay for it yourself.

    "In most developed health systems in the world, 15 percent to 20 percent of the population buys medical services outside of the system of care run by the government. They do it through supplemental insurance, or they buy services out of pocket," Keckley says.

    The people who pay more tend to be in the upper income or have special, more complicated conditions.

    Moore focuses on the private insurance companies and makes no mention of the U.S. government-funded health-care systems such as Medicare, Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program and the Veterans Affairs health-care systems. About 50 percent of all health-care dollars spent in the United States flows through these government systems.

    "Sicko" also ignores a handful of good things about the American system. Believe it or not, the United States does rank highest in the patient satisfaction category. Americans do have shorter wait times than everyone but Germans when it comes to nonemergency elective surgery such as hip replacements, cataract removal or knee repair.

    That's no surprise given the number of U.S. specialists. In U.S. medical schools, students training to become primary-care physicians have dwindled to 10 percent. The overwhelming majority choose far more profitable specialties in the medical field. In other countries, more than one out of three aspiring doctors chooses primary care in part because there's less of an income gap with specialists. In those nations, becoming a specialist means making 30 percent more than a primary-care physician. In the United States, the gap is around 300 percent, according to Keckley.

    As Americans continue to spend $2 trillion a year on health care, everyone agrees on one point: Things need to change, and it will take more than a movie to figure out how to get there.

    A. Chris Gajilan is a senior producer with CNN Medical News. Intern Emily Breidbart contributed to this report.

    Find this article at:
    Analysis: 'Sicko' numbers mostly accurate;*more context needed - CNN.com
    very, um, sad. This is American right?!

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    I'm confused...you mean that there actually exist big nation-wide problems that won't be solved by just banning gay marriage?

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    Elite Member Mr. Authority's Avatar
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    This is really sad because I think people watch these movies feel bad for the moment and go on. I wish it wasn't so and that even a small group of people would start the fight that has to happen. We can't go on this way. Insurance is an arm and a leg and if you don't have it you can't get anything done for your arm or leg.
    I thought so too, but from what I've seen documentaries like these get people talking. The more people talk, the more there informed and in the process telling other people about what they saw and know. The only kinds of people that move on from learning something are those that are too ignorant to do anything about the problem.

    What I got from Sicko was the universal or single-payer healthcare is possible in the US, but that the "capitalists" and the insurance corporations are standing in the way claiming that healthcare does'nt fit in a capitalistic society. That kind of thinking pisses me off because politics or economics should'nt get in the way of ensuring that people are healthy.

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    Super Moderator NoDayButToday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SweetPea View Post
    This is really sad because I think people watch these movies feel bad for the moment and go on. I wish it wasn't so and that even a small group of people would start the fight that has to happen. We can't go on this way. Insurance is an arm and a leg and if you don't have it you can't get anything done for your arm or leg.
    When Moore makes his films, he knows that is the general attitude. I've read an interview with him where he basically said that he knows most people will watch, feel bad, and then either say "but what can I do about it" or just not even try. He went on to say that what makes it worth it is if 1 or 2 people in the theater feel that they can do something and at least try. Even if trying is just going out to find out more information, it's more than they were doing before. That's one of the reasons I respect Moore (and trust me, there are reasons I don't respect him, I took a whole class on him in college), his goal is to get people thinking about huge issues and hoping a handful of people will be affected deep enough to do something, and when you get down to it, 1 or 2 people out of every theater are still HUGE numbers of people who care enough to make a difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonham View Post
    I'm confused...you mean that there actually exist big nation-wide problems that won't be solved by just banning gay marriage?
    Oh....really excellent comment.

    I imagine we'll look back on all the energy we wasted on that (non)issue for so long and be embarrassed. Well, some of us anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Authority View Post
    What I got from Sicko was the universal or single-payer healthcare is possible in the US, but that the "capitalists" and the insurance corporations are standing in the way claiming that healthcare does'nt fit in a capitalistic society.
    An arguement could be made that our current system of healthcare doesn't fit into a capitalistic society because capitalism depends on the free market which in turn depends upon free choice of the consumer. When you're sick, you don't have a choice. It's either use what the "free" market is offering you (no matter how inadequate or expensive it is) or get sicker and possible die. That's something the insurance bozos don't ever want to point out. Healthcare, by it's very nature, is NOT a free market.

    That kind of thinking pisses me off because politics or economics should'nt get in the way of ensuring that people are healthy.
    I agree.

    Question for anyone who has seen the movie, does Michael Moore make suggestions on what we could do?

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    Elite Member lurkur's Avatar
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    ^^ He suggested marrying a Canadian.

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    ^

    Damn, I'm already married. What are the other ways of becoming a Canadian citizen?

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