I walked out of Michael Moore’s latest docudrama feeling both elated and saddened. Elated because of the triumph of the human spirit over the most dreadful situations. Saddened because so often that spirit is crushed by outside forces – politicans, big business, lobby groups – that should know better.
The central theme of this savage indictment of the American health system is that health is not the primary concern of the system. Profit is. And these huge and rising profits are piled up on the backs of the sick and the dying.
To my surprise, Sicko deals not with the nearly 50 million people in the U.S. who do not have health care. It deals with the 250 million people who do have health care. In this whole equation, the insurance companies are king. For starters, the health conditions that these companies will NOT cover are as long as your arm and then some.
Secondly, the obscene profits made by these companies are not made by providing health care but by denying it. Did you know that when an American citizen needs a medical procedure or a referral to a specialist, the green light for these procedures is not provided by the patient’s doctor (if he or she has one) but by an insurance ecompany employee holed up in a small office perhaps a thousand miles away? I am assuming the decision is made by a medical professionl, a doctor. But here’s the rub. The salary raises and promotions of these doctors is dependent, not on the number of procedures they approve but on the number they deny.
That’s logical of course. Every procedure the medical adjuster approves, costs the insurance company money. Every procedure he denies, saves them money.
The United States is the only country in the western world that does not have universal health care. Why do American citizens supinely accept this dreadful state of affairs? Because, it would seem, their politicians and big business insurance companies have sold a bill of goods to Americans i.e. that the health systems that work so well in France, England and Canada (all discussed in Psycho) are socialized medicine. The fear of socialized medicine kills univeral health care in the U.S the way that the bogus word “amnesty” killed the immigration bill last week in the Senate. So what the Americans have is unbridled capitalism in their health care system. Interestingly, though he touches on the system here in Canada, Moore does not point out that Canadians pay nine per cent of GNP for our “socialized” health care system in Canada, the Americans pay 14 per cent of GNP for theirs.
When will Americans crawl out from under the bugaboo of so-called “socialized” medicine and demand a univeral health c are system that works. What they have now under brutal capitalism (the profit motive) is broken. And in Psycho Michael Moore does a brilliant job of saying so.