What’s really `Sicko’ is Moore’s fact distortion

first_imgHe is even more critical of the money-grubbing, cheating insurance companies, exemplified by an insurance doctor who said she was rated and rewarded by how many procedure requests she denied. But Moore does not acknowledge existing government programs like Medicare, Medicaid and others. He fails to note that emergency rooms must treat patients regardless of insurance or ability to pay, or of the extensive pro-bono work many doctors, nurses and other medical personnel regularly do for poor and low-income families. He ignores the price reductions provided by many pharmaceutical companies for the poor or the group Partnership for Prescription Assistance, which helps several million each year. After spending half his film on deficiencies in the U.S. health-care system, Moore extols four examples of government-run socialized medicine in Canada, Great Britain, France and Cuba. He emphasizes that all provide universally available free health care, making no mention of these nations’ high taxes or any existing health-care system financial problems. Moore shows a young woman with cervical cancer who goes to Canada and feigns being a common-law wife of a Canadian citizen to get free treatment and low-cost medication. He claims many people go from U.S. northern cities to Canada for health care that they cannot get or cannot afford in the United States, especially lower-cost medicines. This is contradictory to numerous articles on how seriously ill Canadians come to the United States for treatment they cannot get or cannot wait their turn for at home. A recent Washington Times article headlined “In reversal, Canada dabbles with health care privatization” says Canada is increasingly allowing citizens to purchase health care from spreading private clinics. The article lists the Canadian health care system median waiting times in weeks (published by the Frazer Institute): gynecology, 14.3; ophthalmology, 27.2; general surgery, 10.1; neurosurgery, 31.7; orthopedic surgery, 40.3; urology, 11.5; and internal medicine, 11.5. Next Moore visits Great Britain where everyone is entitled to “free” health care and low standard-cost drugs. A U.S. tourist injures his shoulder and is provided with examination and treatment free. Moore points out the hospital cashier’s window is where patients do not pay but are paid for transportation home. He omits a news item that an estimated 20,000 Britons die needlessly each year waiting for treatment or that the British National Health Care System is nearly bankrupt and is considering privatization. Then he meets with a group of Americans living in Paris and enjoying “free” universal health care. The group extols not only excellent health care but also the very liberal sick leave and vacation allowances of French employment. No mention is made of high taxes, long waiting times or a recent report that the French health-care system is nearly $200 million in the red. There are some clips of congressional testimony about “Hillarycare” and how the American Medical Association, the HMO Association and the pharmaceutical industry lobbied mostly Republicans to vote down Clinton’s socialized medical plan (with no mention that even Democrats agreed it was a multilayered bureaucratic nightmare). After a few scenes at Ground Zero and volunteer 9-11 rescue workers denied free medical treatment because they were not official, there is testimony by the military on the excellent health care the Guantanamo detainees receive that, Moore says, is much better than millions of Americans receive and is “free” (not to U.S. taxpayers). So Moore takes three volunteers from New York to Guantanamo to get the same free health care, but they are denied access. Then they go to Havana where the Cuban universal health-care system provides needed examinations and treatments during several days of private-room hospitalization. This is represented as typical Cuban services, but knowledgeable experts say it is pure Cuban propaganda. For the conclusion to his one-sided expose, socialist Michael Moore poses the question, “Why can’t the United States have the same kind of universal free health care as Canada, Britain, France and Cuba?” Apparently, Moore doesn’t admit that even socialist governments levy taxes and fees to fund their “not-so-free” services. Stan Katten is a former RAND Corp. analysis and a San Pedro resident.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! One of the worst examples was a wife’s story of her husband’s unnecessary death due to their insurance company refusing an available bone marrow transplant that it said was experimental. Another was a mother taking her 2-year-old with a 104-degree temperature to Martin Luther King-Drew Medical Center. Because she belonged to the Kaiser health plan, the hospital refused treatment and forced her to go to Kaiser, by which time it was too late and the child died. An elderly husband and wife went bankrupt, lost their home and were forced to move into a spare basement of one of their children’s homes because of the extreme costs of their medication. Another man lost the tips of two fingers in a saw accident, and the hospital indicated it would cost $60,000 to put back his middle finger and $12,000 to put back his index finger, but he could only afford the less costly finger. Moore’s commentary emphasizes that money-hungry doctors and greedy hospitals are the problems. By Stan Katten (First of two parts) In terms of box office draw, Michael Moore’s “Sicko” was among the summer’s top-performing independent films. Unfortunately, this very negative portrayal of the U.S. health-care industry also gave its audience a dishonestly favorable view of socialized medicine. Moore states that nearly 50million Americans lack health insurance, implying they have little or no health care, because it is too expensive, even for middle-income families. In Moore’s film, when insurance companies, HMOs and hospitals deny care, it’s proof that even those who have insurance don’t get adequate or affordable care. Individuals and couples describe how insurance companies denied treatment recommended by their doctors, how the co-payments and costs of medicine were not affordable, how their insurance was canceled because minor prior conditions were omitted on their applications and how their insurance application was rejected due to an earlier but now cured illness. last_img read more