Now, he takes aim at Americaâ€™s healthcare system by contrasting the horror stories of patients mistreated by insurance companies domestically with the relatively-utopian benefits of socialized medicine
Michael Moore has made a career of exposing hypocrisy in the ranks of
corporate and political bureaucracies.
His first film, Roger and Me (1989), delineated the economic blight
visited upon Flint, Michigan in the wake of General Motors’ business
decision to close down its factories in his hometown and to outsource
those jobs to Mexico.
The controversial gadfly’s next target was the gun lobby was in Bowling
for Columbine (2002), a picture for which he won the Academy Award for
Best Documentary. Next, with Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), he questioned
whether President Bush might have had a hidden agenda in declaring war
Now, he takes aim at America’s healthcare system by contrasting the
horror stories of patients mistreated by insurance companies
domestically with the relatively-utopian benefits of socialized
medicine as enjoyed by citizens of such countries as Canada, France,
England and Cuba. Only closed-minded arch-conservatives are likely to
reject the case Moore makes for universal healthcare out of hand, for
Sicko is undoubtedly the iconoclastic filmmaker’s least divisive
documentary to date.
Wisely, he has opted to rely less on his trademark self-aggrandizing
and showboating in favor of simply giving his victimized interviewees
the limelight, and every one has a very telling and compelling
nightmare to relate. This couple goes bankrupt and moves in with their
daughter due to medical bills. That widow tearfully recounts how her
late husband had dies of kidney cancer after being denied coverage for
a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant, despite the fact that
he had a willing donor in a brother who was an exact match.
A father talks about how his insurance company approved cochlear
implant surgery in only one of his totally deaf daughter’s ears. A guy
who accidentally sawed off two fingers recalls having to choose which
one he wanted reattached. And a woman knocked unconscious in a car
accident is forced to pay her ambulance bill because the ride had not
been pre-approved by her HMO. And so forth.
It doesn’t take long to figure out that the tail is currently wagging
the dog, and that the powerful insurance industry is dictating to
doctors how to conduct their practices. Profit has become more
important than service and more than one guilty physician confesses on
camera to having relied on the flimsiest of excuses to turn away
patients, to refuse reimbursement for a valid claim or to drop a
seriously ill patient altogether.
Moore shows how frustrated Americans have begun looking elsewhere for
affordable healthcare, and how foreigners are content with socialized
medicine. Towards the end, he finally has a little fun when he leads a
flotilla of some of the fed-up folks we’ve just watched to Cuba for
free treatment of maladies not covered by their insurance in the States.
This flick makes it abundantly clear that the U.S. is a very dangerous
place to be any combination of poor, sick or old. Perhaps the American
Medical Association ought to consider changing the Hippocratic Oath
here from “First, do no harm,” to “First, check the wallet.”
Excellent (4 stars). Rated PG-13 for brief strong profanity. Running time: 113 minutes
Studio: The Weinstein Company
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