July 10, 2007
I just saw Michael Moore's new film, Sicko.
He hit the nail on the head, to say the least.
While not a expert in public health or economics, Moore is able to use film to get across a message that the experts - armed only with statistics and analysis - often cannot. The premise of his film is that our health care system doesn't work, and that we would be better off by switching to a system that is not driven by profits. Rather than focusing on the nearly 50 million uninsured (although they come up regularly), he focuses on the failed state of health care for those of us that do have health coverage.
For the providers of health care in America, insurance companies, the intrinsic goal as for-profit corporations is to make the most money. Health care, people like Moore and myself feel, should be driven by the desire to make people better.
Moore presented story after story of denied claims leading to ruined families or even death. I think that many people can relate to these stories, having personally experienced difficulties with the health insurance system or knowing others who have. This, I believe, makes Sicko much more accessible than Moore's previous films such as Fahrenheit 9/11 or Bowling for Columbine, as anti-Bush or anti-gun rhetoric is not as personally relevant as health care.
While it is easy to criticize the health systems in every other industrialized country in the world, it is also easy to criticize a system that leaves 1/6 of the population uninsured while posing a huge financial and emotional burden to many others. Rankings of our health care system, as well as life expectancy and infant mortality rates, demonstrate that our for-profit system doesn't do anything better for us when it comes to results, while we spend more on health care per capita than any other country in the world.
Instead of sending our health dollars to stockholders, we should be sending it to doctors. Instead of corporations handing money to insurers as a benefit to their employees, that money could be diverted to the government to distribute to providers. Sure, it would mean new taxes, but it wouldn't have to mean more money spent overall; money would simply bypass the mess of private insurers. A successful health care system doesn't have to be government-run, but to be effective and humane it should be universal and non-profit.