28 June 2007

The Real "Sicko"

Michael Moore is an effective filmmaker and propagandist. His work is often as engaging as it is misleading, and his most recent film is no exception. Sicko claims to show the serious deficiencies in the U.S. health care system by looking at how we compare to nations like Canada, the U.K., and Cuba.

David Gratzer, a practicing physician licensed in the U.S. and Canada, debunks many of Moore's assertions about the superiority of state-provided healthcare:

Consider, for instance, Mr. Moore's claim that ERs don't overcrowd in Canada. A Canadian government study recently found that only about half of patients are treated in a timely manner, as defined by local medical and hospital associations. "The research merely confirms anecdotal reports of interminable waits," reported a national newspaper. While people in rural areas seem to fare better, Toronto patients receive care in four hours on average; one in 10 patients waits more than a dozen hours.
This problem hit close to home last year: A relative, living in Winnipeg, nearly died of a strangulated bowel while lying on a stretcher for five hours, writhing in pain. To get the needed ultrasound, he was sent by ambulance to another hospital.
In Britain, the Department of Health recently acknowledged that one in eight patients wait more than a year for surgery. Around the time Mr. Moore was putting the finishing touches on his documentary, a hospital in Sutton Coldfield announced its new money-saving linen policy: Housekeeping will no longer change the bed sheets between patients, just turn them over. France's system failed so spectacularly in the summer heat of 2003 that 13,000 people died, largely of dehydration. Hospitals stopped answering the phones and ambulance attendants told people to fend for themselves.
With such problems, it's not surprising that people are looking for alternatives. Private clinics--some operating in a "gray zone" of the law--are now opening in Canada at a rate of about one per week.

His use of Castro's Cuba to demonstrate a better system is the icing on the cake. Many people are not aware that for certain procedures Cuban citizens are required to provide many of their own materials. The system works very well for medical tourists but is atrocious for the average Cuban:

Dr. Julio Cesar Alfonso, 39, who practiced medicine in Cuba for four years before coming to Miami in 1999, describes the Cuban healthcare system as ''a disaster,'' from doctors reusing needles to draw blood from patients (and keeping a sharpening stone for the needles ) to the X-ray machine at Cardenas Regional Hospital, which hasn't been replaced since 1959.
''The treatment Moore and the rescue workers receive in the film was done specifically for them, because they knew it would make great propaganda,'' says Alfonso, a general practitioner in Little Havana. ``The medical centers in Cuba that treat tourists and government officials and VIPs are very different than the ones that treat the general population. If you're a Cuban citizen and need a prescription drug, most doctors either tell you to ask your relatives in the U.S. to ship it to you or recommend alternative herbal remedies. That's the degree of scarcity on the island.''

Michael Moore lives in a dream world. His ambition is to make it a reality. He has admitted that he would like to see the government handle all health care. Forget his dream- for us it would be a nightmare.


Anonymous said...

Unbelievable! Great post. I am so pleased that there are smart, informed people who voice opposing viewpoints that make Moore's assessment look completely idiotic.

National healthcare is a nice ideal, but once you realize that the grass ISN'T greener, you realize that we have people flying in from Europe for medical treatment, and you start being thankful for what we have.

Unknown said...

I actually WENT to the premiere of this twisted movie and heard Moore himself rant and rave before the viewing. It was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. The premiere was held on Skid Row in the slums of downtown Los Angeles. The only people in attendance were homeless people and drug addicts from the surrouding streets, the CBS news team, and a few skid row mission workers (including the girl I was with). Then there was me, the sole health care professional in the audience.

There are so many ridiculous scenes in the movie that it would be hard to summarize them all. The movie is obviously targeted to really, really stupid people who know nothing about health care. At one point, a very dumb woman states, �I don�t understand why these pills cost $110 per bottle. I mean, what do they put in these pills?� The target audience is evidently too ignorant to realize that decades of research involving some of the most brilliant minds in America went into inventing our medications. Perhaps we should let these great complainers try to invent their own medications. Maybe Michael Moore can even diagnose our problems and treat us all for free�because the evil scientists are ripping us off with their expensive pills!