Michael Moore has done it again. After tackling gun control and war politics, he takes on one of the biggest domestic issues of our time, the healthcare system. Sicko is a rather disturbing look at just how far behind the United States is when it comes to universal healthcare progress, something that many other major countries have achieved.
Healthcare shouldn't be a political issue, but in the United States, it really is. Unless something drastic is done, the politicians will continue to bicker over it until the end of time. The problem? Medical companies and insurance companies make billions of dollars off U.S. citizens. Even though I am a believer in the free market, a company should not be profitable - or at least hugely profitable - off the health of individuals. If a company is allowed to function on this business model, then yes, it is in their best interest not to insure people that are actually going to cost them money. A company's number one goal is to make money for its shareholders, but when it comes to health insurance, health should be the number one priority. This conflict of interest is the root of the problem.
I am well aware that Moore's documentaries are generally biased toward one side or another (well, usually not toward the Republican side), but it's hard to argue with what he says here. Even if he only interviewed the people who have been screwed over by the U.S. healthcare system and the people who benefit from foreign healthcare systems, he has definitely made his point. Why is the richest, greatest country in the world not able to do what so many other countries can? Canada's healthcare system may not be perfect, but it's better than ours. France may have employment issues related to how much government funding programs they have, but everyone gets free healthcare. And even Cuba can afford free healthcare.
Moore spends a lot of time outside of the country interviewing people who have used hospitals, pharmacies and so on and so forth in Canada, France, the U.K. and Cuba. Does every prescription medicine in the U.K. cost six pounds? Medicine in Cuba costs five cents. And all of the people Moore interviews don't even seem to comprehend that a trip to the hospital, whether it is a routine checkup or an emergency procedure, should cost money or be a political issue. The Brits laughed at the notion. Are you kidding me? I can't even fathom going to the doctor and not paying a deductible, or not having to check with my insurance company if I need to get a dental procedure. It's infuriating that the United States is so far behind!
As you can see, Sicko has struck a chord with me. The movie is great. Moore's always an entertainer, but this film doesn't need to rely much on his humor or antics. He drills the point home time and time again, feeding off an issue that every single person in the country has been hearing about for years. We all know it's a problem, but Moore makes a good point in showing that it's not that we haven't been able to find a solution; it's that we treat it as an issue at all. In these other countries, people are just used to the system being socialized; in ours, we are used to the system being private. We are used to it, and are complacent about it. And certain politicians (predominantly Republicans, surprise, surprise) don't want to want to shut down such powerful corporations for the better good of the country, of course.
My only issue with the movie occurs when Moore initially (and illegally) visits Cuba. While most of the trip turns out to be quite effective in the overall impact of the film, there is one scene where he takes a boat up to the edge of Guantanamo Bay with a bunch of 9/11 rescue workers and asks, from a far distance, if they can use the same medical facilities that the enemy combatants being held there can get access to. The scene is sensationally stupid and does nothing other than to show Moore "defending these poor people".
Sicko unfortunately doesn't offer many interviews from health insurance executives, but, then again, maybe that's because those people were afraid of what Moore would do with the footage. It's a reality that the United States needs better, universal health care, as long as the country relies on private companies, we're never going to accomplish that. Sicko is certainly one of the more powerful documentaries of the year.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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