What Michael Moore left out of 'Sicko'
The Orange Grove: What Michael Moore left out of 'Sicko'
His film bent over backwards to make socialized medicine look
By RICHARD RALSTON
Michael Moore's comedy-drama "Sicko" presented a great deal of
misinformation--too much to summarize in a short column. Besides,
if anyone in the audience really believes that all Cubans receive
superb health care when Moore's cameras are not running, there is
not much I can say to help them.
However, those who have seen the film should at least be aware of
some of the information that was left out.
After bemoaning the amount of money that Americans spend on
health care, Mr. Moore castigated the "greed" of an insurance
company for not providing routine and immediate approval of a
medical procedure in the 1980s that might have saved a patient's
life at a cost of $500,000. He did not mention whether there should
be an upper limit on any procedure, no matter how experimental or
expensive, and what that would do to health care costs. $1 million?
$10 million? That would surely provide incentives for a lot of
When Moore described health maintenance organizations as the
creation of a dark and evil conspiracy by Richard Nixon, for some
reason he forgot to mention that Nixon's enthusiastic partner in
pushing the HMO Act of 1973 through a Democratic-controlled
Congress was Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
He also forgot to mention that the Clinton administration's health
care proposals in 1994 would have forced most Americans into
Longer life spans in Canada were cited as proof that Canada has a
superior health care system. Moore forgot to mention how many
Canadians die in traffic accidents, are shot by criminals, are killed
in combat, are addicted to illegal drugs, have diseases primarily
afflicting racial minorities, or are obese, compared with Americans.
He also forgot to establish whether Canadians started living longer
only after they nationalized their health care system, or whether
they always lived longer than Americans. He did not mention that if
they do live two years longer, they need to--because that is how
long they often have to wait for surgery.
When Moore filmed two of his relatives buying health insurance in
fear before they traveled to America, he forgot to mention that
many Canadians travel to America for the express purpose of
spending their own money for more than $1 billion in American
health care each year.
Moore interviewed a physician in the British National Health
Service about how wonderful free health care is in Britain, and how
satisfied the physicians are in the NHS. He forgot to mention that
more than one third of physicians working for the NHS buy private
insurance so they don't have to rely on the "free" care, and that
more than 6 million British citizens also buy private insurance for
the same reason. He did not mention that this year the health
minister admitted that one in eight British patients still wait for
more than a year for treatment. He neglected to say that Britain has
had to import more than 20,000 physicians in the past three years--
chiefly from Middle Eastern and Asian countries--because so few of
the British, after sixty years of experience with the NHS, want to
enter or stay in the profession.
While praising the superiority of French medical care and the fact
that French doctors make house calls--almost as an aside while
praising the superiority of every element of French society
compared with America's--Moore forgot to mention that 13,000
Frenchmen died of heat prostration and dehydration during a heat
wave in the summer of 2003, when most French physicians were on
summer vacation and did not show up in emergency rooms, let
alone make house calls.
Michael Moore forgot to mention why he jammed seriously ill
patients into a small boat to take them to Cuba, in order to film a
stunt attempting to prove the superiority of Cuban health care--
when, for much less money, he could have written them a check for
care in America. It must have been compassion.
Most importantly, when Mr. Moore mentioned that "every
industrial country" except the United States has adopted medical
socialism, he did not mention why that means that we should. Many
of those countries still have monarchies. Should the United States?
Many of those countries have established state religions. Should the
United States? Many of those countries have long waiting lists and
severe rationing of health care.
Should the United States?