“Sicko” — a review — Save your money!
When it was suggested that I see and review "Sicko," there was no question that there was a link to headaches and Migraines. Those of us with Migraine disease and chronic headaches are among those who encounter the strengths and weaknesses of the healthcare system, wherever we live.
We need to take a good, objectively critical look at the U.S. healthcare system. "Sicko" met all my expectations that it would be biased and have a definite political agenda. It does, and one would have to be dense beyond words to miss either the bias or the agenda. Still, regardless of their own point of view, I would propose that anyone who is in a position to impact healthcare should be required to watch "Sicko" and pay attention to some of the problems of the American healthcare system that are shown in the movie.
There were instances in "Sicko" where the statistics Moore quoted seemed off to me. In trying to research them for myself, I found it impossible to replicate some of the statistics used to compare the U.S. system in other countries. I could find reports, from the World Health Organization for example, that would have the statistic Moore quoted for one country, but it didn't have the other. Interestingly, Moore and CNN have had an ongoing "discussion" on this exact issue. CNN has now published information that explains my confusion. It seems that Moore was perhaps comparing apples to oranges by taking what should have been comparative statistics from two different reports.5
I can't decide if Michael Moore is a pain in the behind with an over-inflated impression of himself and his work or a genius at self promotion. As I write this, there's an ongoing battle of blogs between Moore and CNN, primarily over comments made by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Gupta actually admires Michael Moore and says they both agree on the need to fix the healthcare system. However, he does question unsourced figures that Moore uses in "Sicko." Certainly, Moore knows fully well that "Sicko" is controversial, and when he accepts interviews, he should expect to be asked pointed questions. Yet, when CNN's Wolfe Blitzer politely asked Moore if he wanted to comment on Dr. Sanjay Gupta's comments, Moore launched into a tirade and said, "Yeah, I'd like about ten minutes to respond." Blitzer asked Moor to give "a couple of headlines," to which Moore replied:
- "I don't talk in sound bites. That report was so biased. I can't imagine what pharmaceutical company ad's coming up after our break here; but, uh, why don't you tell the truth to the American people? I wish that CNN and the other mainstream media would just for once tell the truth about what's going on in this country. Whether it's with healthcare. I don't care what it is. I mean, you guys have such a poor track record, and for me to come on here and listen to that kind of crap... All the statistics show that we have a far worse healthcare than these other industrialized countries. We're the only ones that don't have it free and universal... You're the ones who are fudging the facts."
Blitzer did manage to get in a few sentences during the segment, including one in which he pointed out to Moore that CNN has also been running a lot of commercials for "Sicko," and that CNN is a business and they have commercials. Moore continued to interrupt, and, of course wouldn't stay on the topic of "Sicko." He changed the subject to the topic of the war in Iraq.2 Yes, poor Michael Moore is being mistreated all the way to the bank. Every interview boosts box office, especially when he can turn them into confrontations and controversy.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta summed up much of what I thought of "Sicko" in his blog, where he said,
- "...I also worry that Michael, who is an accomplished film maker, tried to leave people with the impression that health care is free in many other nations and there is a state of utopia. True, Michael did talk about increased taxes in his film, but he also kept calling it "free," which made it nebulous. No question, there are many valuable things to learn from other health care systems, but we should know all things before wholeheartedly endorsing one system over another. We should know that taxes will be much higher, as is the case in France where they are crippled by their health care system. We should also know that a significant number of people in these countries still buy supplemental insurance, apparently unhappy with what the government alone can provide. We should also remember that Medicare, an example of a limited national health care plan in the United States, is expected to go bankrupt by the year 2020..."
With the interviews he had, Moore could have made a powerful film about the problems in the U.S. healthcare system. We know there are problems. Everyone acknowledges that the system is "broken." As it is, "Sicko" is propaganda, pure and simple. Moore thinks he knows what we need-to throw away our system and adopt a system similar to those he sees in other countries, systems he calls "free." He ignores the consequences of entirely throwing out our current system, implications that would include huge increases in taxes to cover a so-called "free" healthcare system. His misuse of excellent interview topics and subjects results in a movie not worth seeing.
If you want to know what's wrong with the American healthcare system, you don't need to see "Sicko." Just talk to patients, doctors, and yes, the companies that produce pharmaceuticals and offer healthcare insurance. Then, if you think that "free" universal healthcare is the answer, talk to some of our readers and forum members who live in countries with universal, "free" healthcare. Talk to some of our Canadian members who are coming to the U.S. and paying out-of-pocket to see doctors because the doctors in Canada are so limited by their system that they haven't been able to help them. Talk to our member in England who use their life's savings or borrow from family and friends to see doctors outside the English NHS because three years after a stroke, she's still not getting care.
In the end, I'll give "Sicko" two stars out of five. If nothing else, the movie will get people thinking and talking about the problems with our healthcare system. The obvious bias, comparison of statistics that really were not comparable, and Moore's lack of ability to stay on topic rather than wandering off into his political agenda take away from the film more than can be salvaged.
1 "Sicko." The Weinstein Company. A Dog Eat Dog Films Production. Written, produced, and directed by Michael Moore. 2007.
2 "Michael Moore talks healthcare." CNN interview: Wolfe Blitzer, Michael Moore." Filmmaker Michael Moore talks about U.S. healthcare and responds to CNN's Sanjay Gupta's "Fast Check" on his film "Sicko." July 9, 2007.
3 "Michael Moore, Dr. Gupta square off over ‘Sicko.'" CNN.com.
4 "My conversation with Michael Moore." CNN.com. Paging Dr. Gupta Blog. July 11, 2007
5 "CNN's response to Michael Moore." CNN.com. July 15, 2007.
Last updated July 16, 2007.