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A comedy about 45 million people with no health care in the richest country on earth
June 17, 2007 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Michael Moore's Sicko on Google Video
posted by petsounds (282 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
so yeah im not sure about the legality of this and the video quality is notsogreat but as for the movie.. well i just finished watching it and its really good
posted by petsounds at 5:59 PM on June 17, 2007


I watched this last night and it's very much worth the time. Probably his best film yet.
posted by dhammond at 6:02 PM on June 17, 2007


What's the easiest way to get this to DVD? Can I just plop the avi file into Nero and it'll convert it to DVD?
posted by geoff. at 6:02 PM on June 17, 2007


ARRRR. Why I think it's booty. Buh-uh-huh Booty.
posted by loquacious at 6:05 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


What's the easiest way to get this to DVD?

AVI to DVD works well and is rather simple, though the transcoding takes several hours (even with a quick machine). More info here.
posted by dhammond at 6:07 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yay copyright infringement! Yay $100,000 fine per incident, times several thousand active MeFites!

Dude, if you're not actually trying to destroy Metafilter, let me suggest not posting screeners of unreleased movies. The movie studios get rather upset about this.
posted by Malor at 6:08 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nero won't convert it to you but other programs will. I use this one, convertxtodvd, to put .flv videos from youtube/google video onto dvd and it works great
posted by petsounds at 6:08 PM on June 17, 2007


pirates have lots of kids because they can't stop answering booty calls
posted by pyramid termite at 6:08 PM on June 17, 2007 [7 favorites]


Didn't it used to be that you could download .avi files directly from Google video? Now it's trying to get me to download "Google video player" and gives me a manual link to a 'gvp' file.

What a pain in the ass. Google is turning into Real.
posted by delmoi at 6:09 PM on June 17, 2007


Dude, if you're not actually trying to destroy Metafilter, let me suggest not posting screeners of unreleased movies. The movie studios get rather upset about this.

He's not posting a screener, he's posting a link to a screener. The first complaint will go to Google, and if they remove it, then the link will no longer work.

So chillax.
posted by delmoi at 6:10 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would think it's Google's problem, Malor, not Matt's.
posted by BeerFilter at 6:12 PM on June 17, 2007


but isnt that responsibility of whoever ripped it, or more to the point google because theyre actually hosting the video? i dont think its illegal to visit google yet..
posted by petsounds at 6:12 PM on June 17, 2007


Moore Approves of Movie Pirating.

You know, in case you care.
posted by meh at 6:13 PM on June 17, 2007


Didn't it used to be that you could download .avi files directly from Google video? Now it's trying to get me to download "Google video player" and gives me a manual link to a 'gvp' file.

What a pain in the ass. Google is turning into Real.


I got the avi by clicking on "Download", it has a random alphanumeric string followed by avi.avi, which is weird but it works. Looks like it maxes out around 700KB/s though, so it'll probably take 15 minutes or so.
posted by geoff. at 6:13 PM on June 17, 2007


I'm not sure if the thread title is the film's ad tagline or what, but in the intro Moore explicitly says the film is *not* about American without health coverage -- it's about Americans who have health coverage, or at least think they do, and what happens to them when they try to use it.
posted by aaronetc at 6:16 PM on June 17, 2007


Michael Moore on Oprah, with some excerpts from the film.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:30 PM on June 17, 2007


Has anyone ever been prosecuted for hyperlinking to copyrighted material hosted by someone else?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:34 PM on June 17, 2007


I found a DVDrip of it in super high quality last week on usenet. Haven't sat down to watch it yet, but a very high quality version came out more than two weeks before release. I suspect it was someone on Moore's team and probably with his approval, since he doesn't hate file sharing and just wants people to see his movies.
posted by mathowie at 6:38 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


piratebay.org has it as a "DVDrip." Also a RealVideo format, which is actually good quality for computer viewing.

It's a very good film, with the usual Moore methods of selective editing. I had 2 questions I tried to email him, on the slim chance someone would reply, but the mail bounced back with a "mailbox full" error

My 2 questions, in case anyone sees him hanging around:

What happens to drug and other medical R&D when the profit motive is removed? (I am assuming other countries benefit from US investments in R&D.)

The 9-11 workers got better health care in Cuba than the US, yet in the quality-of-healthcare list in the film ("America is just ahead of Slovenia"), it clearly shows Cuba as below Slovenia. What's up with that?

I plan on seeing this when it's in theaters.
posted by The Deej at 6:43 PM on June 17, 2007


It's been pirated. It may well appear on the torrents.

But perhaps it shouldn't be posted here.

It's weird how google leaves these things up. Surely they have a few people looking? You would almost think it's up their deliberately, or at least with the awareness of lawyers or management.
posted by sien at 6:43 PM on June 17, 2007


Well, it will be more fun to go out and see it Sicko with friends, and then have a drink afterward, right? Also, by seeing it in a theater I'll boost the numbers for Moore's film, and thereby pave the way for the production of more such documentaries. So, I'll just wait.
posted by washburn at 6:45 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


This better not bring any attention to the six pound brick of uncut Peruvian cocaine I have sitting on top of my monitor right now.
posted by The Straightener at 6:46 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yay copyright infringement! Yay $100,000 fine per incident, times several thousand active MeFites!

Ya, Matt has been pretty clear on this. It's not hosted on MeFi's servers, it's just a link, the same as many news stories on the web have a link. Matt can delete if he thinks it's not a good post, but the copyright issue has been discussed many times.
posted by The Deej at 6:47 PM on June 17, 2007


The 9-11 workers got better health care in Cuba than the US, yet in the quality-of-healthcare list in the film ("America is just ahead of Slovenia"), it clearly shows Cuba as below Slovenia. What's up with that?

Depends on your definition of quality.

Basic public health care (ie maternal mortality, infant mortality, % vaccinated, etc.) I'd expect Cuba to be better than Slovenia -- and parts of the US (I'm looking at you, Mississippi and many Indian reservations.) Availability of on-demand surgery, of advanced pharmaceuticals, ER mortality: They'd all be far, far better in the US.
posted by docgonzo at 6:51 PM on June 17, 2007


What happens to drug and other medical R&D when the profit motive is removed?

Ask the people who need effective prophylaxis or treatment for malaria or tuberculosis.

Oh, wait -- you can't. They're dead.

The profit motive may be a driver of tremendous innovation in pharmaceuticals but let's not delude ourselves that the drug development pipeline is aimed at the world's top public health concerns. Simply, diseases that affect people who cannot pay for drugs are not of interest to Big Pharma.

First up against the wall when doconzo's revolution comes, lemme tell you...
posted by docgonzo at 6:58 PM on June 17, 2007 [6 favorites]


Thanks!
posted by phrontist at 7:03 PM on June 17, 2007


Has anyone ever been prosecuted for hyperlinking to copyrighted material hosted by someone else?

Yes, many times. All over the world. See: bittorrent link sites.
posted by Malor at 7:07 PM on June 17, 2007


The 9-11 workers got better health care in Cuba than the US, yet in the quality-of-healthcare list in the film ("America is just ahead of Slovenia"), it clearly shows Cuba as below Slovenia. What's up with that?

Guantánamo Bay is U.S. territory (under a lease set up in the wake of the 1898 Spanish-American War) and is not considered legally to be a part of Cuba. Thus -- the health care ranking of Gitmo is not considered or factored into the ranking Cuba. The health-care provided there is under the direction of the U.S. military.
posted by ericb at 7:14 PM on June 17, 2007


"Yay copyright infringement! Yay $100,000 fine per incident, times several thousand active MeFites!"

LOL, yeah they're gonna sue us all.

Also pigs have been spotted in airborne trajectories.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 7:14 PM on June 17, 2007


geoff., I got 1700kB/s... but that's what you get for wasting time at the lab.
posted by anthill at 7:17 PM on June 17, 2007


Thanks for the input, doconzo. I think Moore states that Cuba's infant mortality rate is lower than the US. The 911 workers were teary-eyed at the care they were given in Cuba, and to be honest it made me misty as well. Of course, with cameras running I'm sure everyone is on their best behavior.

Although I tend to be right-leaning, I have always loved Moore's films and have them all on DVD. They are entertaining and insightful, regardless of whether or not you agree with his viewpoint. And for those who may disagree with some or all aspects of the film, it will move you, and make you think, and may open a great national discussion on healthcare, and provide some public pressure for improvement.
posted by The Deej at 7:17 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


LOL, yeah they're gonna sue us all.

Nope, they'll just pick a few examples and really put the screws to them while completely ignoring the rest. Thanks for volunteering to take one for the team!
posted by IronLizard at 7:22 PM on June 17, 2007


ericb -- they got care *in Cuba* (specifically in Havana), not from the Guantanamo Bay base.
posted by aaronetc at 7:23 PM on June 17, 2007


aaronetc -- thanks for the clarification. I'm now off to watch the full documentary.
posted by ericb at 7:28 PM on June 17, 2007


Not that Michael Moore has ever been hurting for publicity, but you can't ignore the fact that this perfectly timed "leak" of his new movie is generating tons of free publicity right when he needs it. Personally, I think the leak was deliberate, but I might be wrong. Either way, I have a feeling that when the movie eventually does come out and all the dollars have been counted, it will turn out that having the movie online actually helped rather than hurt ticket sales. 'Sicko' could turn out to represent a major turning point for the way movies are marketed.
posted by spilon at 7:28 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


What happens to drug and other medical R&D when the profit motive is removed?
Much medical research is funded by governmental or non-profit organisations. For instance: the NIH in America; cancer research charities worldwide; the European Union; the British Medical Research Council, etc. etc.
I work in a prominent cancer research institute in NYC, and just as at all medical schools, research institutes and University departments, the walls everywhere are festoned with the names of philanthropists. Research can and is done without profit; the R&D done by drug companies is all founded on more basic academic research usually paid for by taxpayers and charities. Research would continue without profiteering, as long as people think it is something society should spend money on.
I am assuming other countries benefit from US investments in R&D. Whilst America is undoubtedly the world leader in both biomedical research and money-grabbing pharmaceutical corporations, those quaint place overseas are not just waiting for the nice Americans to send them some crumbs, you know.
There's a whole lot of good research done in Europe, especially in the UK and Germany, and plenty going on in Japan, Australia and Canada. China, Korea and Singapore are working hard at increasing their status too. On the corporate side, GlaxoSmithKline are British, Sanofi-Aventis are French, Novartis and Hoffman-La Roche both Swiss. According to Wikipedia, only five of the top ten pharmaceutical giants are American.
posted by nowonmai at 7:32 PM on June 17, 2007 [6 favorites]


Didn't it used to be that you could download .avi files directly from Google video?

Here you go.
posted by danb at 7:33 PM on June 17, 2007 [8 favorites]


I thought it was a good documentary (kind of drags towards the end), but Moore always has a way of filtering out information that doesn't put his objections in unfavorable light (never once mentioning the impact universal health care has on taxes). I personally prefer a more balanced approach so I can make up my own mind, but this film is good for opening debate.
posted by Mach3avelli at 7:34 PM on June 17, 2007


Michael Moore in his first live interview in 21/2 years: he talks about SICKO on Bill Maher's 'Real Time.'
"Even Fox News said it was brilliant and uplifting."
posted by ericb at 7:40 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ask the people who need effective prophylaxis or treatment for malaria or tuberculosis.

WHO, Sanger Institute, Pharmacopeia, GSK and a mix of other non-profit and for-profit institutions have been working together on malaria, which is a tropical disease and therefore one without much of a profitable market.

While there's probably not a whole lot of profit in curing malaria, there is definitely profit in the systems biology approaches used in learning about the disease, which are applicable to other diseases.

Profit isn't bad in itself. Profit at the benefit of marketing — to the exclusion of vital R&D — is bad.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:43 PM on June 17, 2007


What happens to drug and other medical R&D when the profit motive is removed? (I am assuming other countries benefit from US investments in R&D.)

US taxpayers fund the vast majority of R&D that drug companies profit from.

NIH (taxpayer funded 100%) funds 1/3 of biomedical R&D. From 1955 to 1992, 92% of drugs approved by the FDA to treat cancer were researched and developed by the NIH. Between 1992 and 1996, drug companies received $27.4 billion in R&D tax credits (tax credits to companies posting billion dollar profits, mind you). (all from David Sirota's wonderful, Hostile Takeover)

I think they'll be fine. Since they're making a metric shit ton off of US taxpayer money.

I dl'ed Sicko this weekend and watched it. Pretty much an affirmation of my feelings toward this issue. I thought it was great and fairly non-controversial vis-a-vis partisan politics. I'll be buying multiple copies of the DVD when it's out and donating several to the local libraries.

I also encourage all of the other physicians at MeFi to look into PNHP.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:49 PM on June 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


Moore has indeed had no problem with the file-sharing of his previous documentary 'Fahrenheit 9/11.' He even encouraged the online sharing, as noted by meh (above).

I think spilon may be onto something regarding the market dynamics for this film. Early online viewing will likely spur the froth of in-theater and later home-DVD (i.e. Netflix | Blockbuster et al) viewings.

Michael Moore has been able to generate siginificant attention and revenue from low-cost, yet highly-impactful (documentary) films. No star salaries; no special effects required!!!
posted by ericb at 7:50 PM on June 17, 2007


*the online sharing of such* || *significant attention*
posted by ericb at 7:52 PM on June 17, 2007


I'll tell you this, last year I had to visit doctors & hospitals in Turkey, Greece and Austria for health issues (broken foot in April, ruptured ear in May) I suffered during travels. The doctors in Turkey were definitely hit and miss, but my last ear doctor in Austria was by far better than any I've had since, and he was a specialist that took me as a walk-in with no insurance. Not one of the bills ever cost more than $100, as a matter of fact my doctor visit in Santorini cost me $9 total. Not one person ever asked me if I had an insurance card or if I could pay. They just took care of me.

The runaround and lack of help I got AFTER arriving home not only didn't help me but it broke me both financially and emotionally. I had to make an appointment with my GP to get an appointment with a specialist who referred me to two more specialists. Who referred me to an allergy doctor and sent me for all sorts of lovely expensive tests. I had 400 allergy patch tests, CT scans, you name it. And then in the end when I said, "It feels like you people are just doing tests for the sake of doing tests and aren't fixing anything or giving me any answers," they basically told me "Yeah, we don't know what to tell you. We don't know why your ear ruptured. And not sure what to do about it. But there's another specialist I'd like to send you to..."

Pardon my french, but fuck the American medical system.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:55 PM on June 17, 2007 [7 favorites]


petsounds: Thank you very much. I'm about twenty minutes into the documentary but felt compelled to pause and get back here. Fuck the critics of Michael Moore. This is fantastic. This highlights exactly the problems with the US health care system.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 7:57 PM on June 17, 2007


I don't want to be any more depressed about our system than I already am, so I won't be watching this, legally or otherwise.
posted by konolia at 8:02 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty much in step with Moore's politics, but can't stand him personally. I realize that's my problem, but for all the good questions he raised in Bowling for Columbine, he almost ruined the whole thing by superimposing himself as "auteur" over the whole damn thing. When he tones down his own bloated ego, he's really quite effective at what he does.

Hopefully there's less of him in this new one. It does look good, and I eagerly await the right-wing spin machine trying to bash him yet again ("Lawl he's fat amirite!") when he makes a simple point that even the most die-hard red-staters would have to appreciate: In the richest country ever, why should you have to go into life-long debt if you, your wife, or one of your kids gets really sick?
posted by bardic at 8:05 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


nowonmai
Thanks, great info!
posted by The Deej at 8:14 PM on June 17, 2007


never once mentioning the impact universal health care has on taxes

That was the whole point of the segment with the $96K/year French couple and their awesome condo. They get taxed like crazy so that the government can somebody over to do new mothers' laundry, but because so much is paid for out of public coffers, they don't have any big expenses after their mortgage.
posted by aaronetc at 8:17 PM on June 17, 2007


This movie is really facinating. Those of you who think they might want to watch it later, I'd say you should start it and see if you want to turn it off. It's very engaging.

bardic: Moore narrates the film, and he's in it a little bit, mostly just interviewing people.
posted by delmoi at 8:17 PM on June 17, 2007


bardic: It amazes me what gets people bent out of shape over Moore. I, like you, agree with him generally but have other reservations about him as a spokesman for "my side." Mainly, I think his ego and his manipulative filmmaking get in the way of his message. If he would tone down his presence and be more evenhanded in his presentation of material, I think it would make a much stronger case and get people on multiple sides of an issue talking and thinking.

But this last semester I showed the film The Corporation to my freshman composition students. Moore is in the movie for about 5 minutes getting interviewed, but I could tell it completely turned my students off to the whole thing. Only 1 or 2 of them had actually seen a Michael Moore film, but they all thought he was a fat, obnoxious jerk, and therefore everything he said was wrong, and anyone who agreed with him was also wrong. For the vast majority of the students, they hated him just because their parents had told them to hate him, but had no real basis for their opinions. It made me sad, because for all his faults, at least he talks about things that should be talked about, but so many people don't listen because it's Michael Moore.
posted by papakwanz at 8:27 PM on June 17, 2007


The Deej wrote: The 911 workers were teary-eyed at the care they were given in Cuba, and to be honest it made me misty as well. Of course, with cameras running I'm sure everyone is on their best behavior.

I read an interview with Michael Moore in Entertainment Weekly where he said that the film crew and the 9/11 workers were curious about this too (whether they had received good care because the camera crews were there). So, one of the workers who was fluent in Spanish sneaked out to a different ward where the health care staff didn't know her. She pretended to be a Puerto Rican tourist who had become ill while travelling in Cuba, and she said she was treated with exactly the same professionalism and compassion as she had received from the health care workers who were working in front of the film crew.

I haven't seen SICKO! yet, but I would like to. I live in Canada and there is a lot of loud complaining from conservatives and calls for privatization of our public healthcare system, but I hear these stories about the US system and wonder why people would think private health care serves anyone but the very rich.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:32 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


thanks, really want to see this. just gonna have a quick cigarette first.
posted by andywolf at 8:35 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why not put down the cigarette and have a nice, tasty CUBAN CIGAR????
posted by IronLizard at 8:40 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think his ego and his manipulative filmmaking get in the way of his message

True that- also, he's a lightweight, and unfortunately too much of a polemicist. Li

But, he gets his message out which is laudatory.
posted by mattoxic at 8:41 PM on June 17, 2007


Moore is in the movie for about 5 minutes getting interviewed, but I could tell it completely turned my students off to the whole thing.

Sounds like there's a market for generating "de-Moored" versions of these films. Not just editing out Moore, but changing his voice a bit. Seriously. It sounds like a lot of people need to hear these issues but not be distracted by whatever dad/frat friends/Rush said about Moore.
posted by rolypolyman at 8:41 PM on June 17, 2007


Recommended.
posted by acro at 8:42 PM on June 17, 2007


Yay copyright infringement! Yay $100,000 fine per incident, times several thousand active MeFites!

My feeling is, some movies transcend the guilt of watching it "illegally"...

Fast Food Nation... that movie looks cool. Definitely going to rent that.

Sicko... have to watch this. Now. Then rent/buy it.

Austin Powers 3... pirate that crap.
posted by starman at 8:43 PM on June 17, 2007


It sounds like a lot of people need to hear these issues but not be distracted by whatever dad/frat friends/Rush said about Moore.

is there anyone who would say the kinds of things moore says and supports what he does who wouldn't become a target of character assassination by the wingnuts?

it just doesn't matter ... no matter who you have saying it, they'll find something to ridicule because that's what they want to do ... they don't actually want to debate the issues, they just want to bury whoever brings them up under a load of bullshit

moore isn't mocked because he's moore, he's mocked because of what he advocates
posted by pyramid termite at 8:49 PM on June 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


I don't want to be any more depressed about our system than I already am, so I won't be watching this, legally or otherwise.

Now there's a healthy attitude.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:50 PM on June 17, 2007 [7 favorites]


I just finished watching it, and was strongly reminded of a core difference between between the UK where I grew up and the US where I live now, which is that the lack of universal care in the U.S. contributes to labor immobility and a lack of flexibility in the labor market.

When you have to think about the impact on your health and that of your family of a job change, that creates a very strong incentive to not change. In the U.K. it's a non-issue.

Psychologically, it makes an enormous difference too. It's a whole area of your life that you stress about in the U.S. that is a non-issue in the U.K..
posted by idb at 8:53 PM on June 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


I don't want to be any more depressed about our system than I already am, so I won't be watching this, legally or otherwise.

Nayh-nayh, I can't hear you.
posted by ericb at 8:53 PM on June 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm having a great time watching Moore dismantle the argument against socialized medicine in Canada. Any Canadian MeFites want to chime in (if you've seen the documentary) and dispute Moore's depiction of the Canadian system?
posted by photoslob at 8:55 PM on June 17, 2007


Okay, I'm almost done. Here is my take:

Moore's previous films have always made me a bit uneasy at times. He takes cheap shots, portrays situations in ways that, while usually not blatant distortion, invite attack by those who disagree. He's learned a lot, and it shows in this film. Most MeFites (a generally worldly and educated bunch) won't learn too much, but many others will. It was a film that needed to be made, and to my surprise, I Moore did an excellent job. This film could make a difference in the upcoming elections.
posted by phrontist at 8:56 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Now there's a healthy attitude.

No, he's right. If you already know that the state of healthcare in your country is piss-poor in comparison to so many others, why would you watch this? The target audience is those who have no idea how much better others have it. Why preach to the choir?
posted by IronLizard at 8:57 PM on June 17, 2007


I like it so far. I bet this will be what causes the US to adopt the same sort of health care of every other first world nation. This will cause the poor and demoralized people with no chance of getting proper preventative care or paying for even 1/100th of the cost of emergency care to rise up. Or maybe not. I don't think there's anything that can pry industry bribes out of the cold dead hands of our senators.

Alexis Crumeau (sp) looks like a young Scott Thompson from The Kids in the Hall.
posted by stavrogin at 8:57 PM on June 17, 2007


to my surprise, I Moore did an excellent job

This iMoore, is it made by Apple? Does it vibrate?
posted by IronLizard at 8:59 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, ericb, Moore does that at 1:22 or so...
posted by anthill at 8:59 PM on June 17, 2007


what a great statement!
posted by growabrain at 9:00 PM on June 17, 2007


Moore Approves of Movie Pirating.

Wow, he's thoughtful and articulate and soft-spoken and everything. Good clip.
posted by mediareport at 9:01 PM on June 17, 2007


I spoke too soon. The Cuba thing is fucking stupid.

Very, very, close though.
posted by phrontist at 9:05 PM on June 17, 2007


I'm a Canadian, and owe my life to the medical system. I was born with a hole between the two sides of my heart, and had open heart surgery twice: one at age 1, one at age 3. How would that have worked out under the US system, with follow up every few months (and even every few years now), I don't know. So I owe the country a lot. [NOT BIASED]

The Canadian healthcare system varies slightly from province to province. Moore went to Ontario; back in British Columbia when I was working an engineering job I paid about $2,400 a year in provincial medical insurance premiums. It's scaled to your income, so poor folks pay less. Not everything is covered under Canadian healthcare - optical, dental, things like that are often covered by your employer's health insurance. So to some extent it's a mix. Crappy job = no braces and ugly glasses. Not the end of the world, but not the paradise that Moore projects.

Waiting times are fine in my experience. If you go to the hospital with a cut on your toe, you will wait awhile. If you have a heart attack, in you go. This of course varies from region to region as well, though a recent study found that the "tail of the curve" was very narrow.

For some procedures, like big medical imaging machines, it can be a little longer. There's a big furor going on about the possibility of opening up private clinics for things like MRIs, to let those with the $ skip the line for their cat scans. We'll see if it works out: things like medical laboratory work (e.g. pap smears) are already handled almost entirely by the private sector, and there's no problem. It just depends on how accountable the service is, and if it's vulnerable to corruption or fraud.

My take on things: If the rich and powerful can opt to not have to deal with the public health system by buying their way past it, they'll never really feel the need to do more than lip service to keeping it livable. Same access to treatment for everyone = fundamental equality in society.
posted by anthill at 9:11 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm having a great time watching Moore dismantle the argument against socialized medicine in Canada. Any Canadian MeFites want to chime in (if you've seen the documentary) and dispute Moore's depiction of the Canadian system?

Your use of the term 'socialised medicine' indicates, and pardon my use of technical lingo, you don't have a fucking clue what you're talking about.
posted by docgonzo at 9:11 PM on June 17, 2007


Your use of the term 'socialised medicine' indicates, and pardon my use of technical lingo, you don't have a fucking clue what you're talking about.

Thanks for explaining everything so clearly.
posted by dhammond at 9:19 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


SOCIALIZED

i'm clearly a completely clueless fuck because i misspelled a word. please except my apology and then go eat a dick.

posted by photoslob at 9:29 PM on June 17, 2007 [9 favorites]


Yay internets!
posted by furtive at 9:30 PM on June 17, 2007


and btw docgonzo, since you live in BC why not talk about your experience with the medical system in Canada? or maybe even add something to the conversation?
posted by photoslob at 9:32 PM on June 17, 2007


Well at least rich people don't have separate tax systems and penal systems, oh, right...
posted by furtive at 9:38 PM on June 17, 2007


32 minutes in, the movie is a vehicle for Hilary Clinton as president.
posted by furtive at 9:40 PM on June 17, 2007


38 minutes in I take back my previous statement.
posted by furtive at 9:46 PM on June 17, 2007


32 minutes in, the movie is a vehicle for Hilary Clinton as president

That would explain the favorable press courtesy of the Mudoch-owned News Corporation.

Hillary receives large contributions from a number of telecommunications and media corporations. These corporations are moving into or already have a significant Internet, news, cable and television presence.

She has raised nearly two and a half times as much money in 2006 than in 2004 and 2002.

Given the contributions she's amassed and the influence peddling that comes with them, and further given the increasingly slim chance of a GOP presidency in 2008, it would be little surprise that Murdoch wants to get ready to jump ship.

The FCC is directed by five Commisioners appointed by the President. Murdoch would then be well prepared to further corrupt FCC policy under a second Clinton presidency and expand American interests, including buying controlling interests in larger numbers of local television stations, cable operations and other media delivery outlets.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:48 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


man, i want a copy of that album "Ronald Reagan speaks out against socialized medicine."
posted by andywolf at 9:52 PM on June 17, 2007


Finally a coherent Michael Moore film that isn't painful to watch.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:55 PM on June 17, 2007


thanks for posting this.
posted by brevator at 9:55 PM on June 17, 2007


More about Sicko and Hillary Clinton.
posted by mediareport at 10:06 PM on June 17, 2007


Guantánamo Bay is U.S. territory (under a lease set up in the wake of the 1898 Spanish-American War) and is not considered legally to be a part of Cuba. Thus -- the health care ranking of Gitmo is not considered or factored into the ranking Cuba. The health-care provided there is under the direction of the U.S. military.

Did you watch the movie? The patients were treated in Havana, not in Cuba. The care they got wasn't really what the average Cuban gets either, According to the NYT, there are really two levels of care. One for party officials, the wealthy, and tourists, and another for the average person. The second level is still good, of course.

Cuba had a lot to gain by treating these people well, and so it would have been worthwhile for them to get that kind of treatment.

I spoke too soon. The Cuba thing is fucking stupid.

Yeah I cringed a bit, especially the part where they boated up to Gitmo, as opposed to Cuba proper. But it turned out to be not that bad. I think the trip was more about marketing then anything else. A stunt to get press then anything that really helps the narrative.
posted by delmoi at 10:08 PM on June 17, 2007


In Australia, every citizen or permanent resident has free at the point of consumption health care. Prescription medications are also subsidised for all to about $20 per script for most (around $4 if you are retired or on welfare).
As mentioned about Canada, emergency treatment is rapid and free. If you have a cold or something else minor, you can attend a hospital emergency room, but you would probably be urged to visit a GP.
85% of GP visits are free at the point of consumption (called bulk billing) the remainder require up front payment, but you can claim about $25 back. Of course, if you are poor you go to a doctor who bulk bills everyone, these are common in the city, but if you are wealthy or particularly like some doctor, you can choose them and still received the $25 refund if they charge more.
If you have non-emergency hospital needs, you will likely need to wait until resources are available, this can be anywhere from weeks to, in extreme cases, a year.
If you want quicker attention, you can pay cash to a private hospital and be treated immediately, and about a 3rd of the population pays an additional "private" health insurance premium that covers these costs (usually >80% with you paying the rest - average family premium is around $1400p.a.).
For non-core health like optical and dental, there is free coverage for those on welfare but this has been under funded, so you might have to wait a year for a new pair of glasses, or more disturbingly, dental work.
So, in effect, everybody gets free care, the market is in place so you can purchase more immediate or customised care (plus perks like a private room and gourmet hospital food) if you wish to spend your money that way, and here is no reduction in quality of outcome for any member of society.
And Australia spends about as much per percent of GDP for this as the USA spends on Medicaid and the associated welfare health programs that cover only a fraction of the population.
I'll repeat that so it is clear - the US tax burden need not increase to deliver a 100% coverage health care system.
Of course those health benefits premiums you now pay would be optional, but you guys love those HMOs, so you would still keep that coverage even if free care was available, right ;-)
People is Australia do not go bankrupt due to healthcare bills.
So who is against public healthcare?
posted by bystander at 10:17 PM on June 17, 2007


Au an Australian I'm watching with horror with which the conservative government is dismantling our wonderful universal health care and replacing it with privatised US model.

I love the spin, everything is new and improved. I love the conservatives concept of a leveling services for all. "Well I can afford it, I don't see why they can't- after all we breath the same oxygen"
posted by mattoxic at 10:19 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jesus, that section on Canada and Great Britain just brought tears to my eyes. The sheer incredulousness on their faces when asked about money... Fuck.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:22 PM on June 17, 2007


I'm really enjoying this film, if that's the right word. I'm skipping around, have seen about half of it.

I think it works because Moore is telling other people's stories, not constantly shifting the whole thing back to him, which drove me crazy in Bowling for Columbine.

The interviews with the women who have cancer, and then the voice-over nonchalantly letting us know that they're dead is absolutely staggering.

It really is fucking insane to be an American these days. All I can do for myself or tell anyone else is, do what you can to stay healthy, because if you get sick, you, your money and house, and your family are well and truly fucked forever. I don't want to imagine what it's like if you don't have health insurance, but I honestly can't imagine it could be much worse.
posted by bardic at 10:28 PM on June 17, 2007


Your use of the term 'socialised medicine' indicates, and pardon my use of technical lingo, you don't have a fucking clue what you're talking about.

Your spelling of the word "socialized" indicates, and pardon my use of technical lingo, you don't have a fucking clue how Canadian spelling works.
posted by oaf at 10:31 PM on June 17, 2007


Moore's depiction of the Canadian system?

Overly rosy, according to As It Happens. Moore's defense was something along the lines of "You can't tell the whole story in a film. If you want the whole story, go read a book."
posted by oaf at 10:35 PM on June 17, 2007


never once mentioning the impact universal health care has on taxes

The US could cut the defense budget by 25% and still spend more than everyone else in the world put together.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:38 PM on June 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


I remember reading that the US spends more tax dollars per capita on health care than Canada because it has to subsidise emergency rooms, which are packed with uninsured who wait until the last minute to seek medical attention, require costly interventions and are unable to pay. That is, the cost of this on top of medicare and medicaid, plus the grotesque medicare drug plan/giveaway to pharmaceutical firms, costs the taxpayer more than the Canadian system.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:39 PM on June 17, 2007


Well I'll tell you this, I've listened to old people discuss trying to decide between whether to buy food or medicine... and I've driven people to Mexico to get cheap prescriptions filled... and I've seen my own credit card bills go sky high with doctor bills over the years (even though I have insurance, which already costs me over $300 a month)... and it all makes me pretty sick to my stomach. I have said more than a few times that I hope to God I can retire in France somehow because I've often found myself ashamed of how America treats their senior citizens and sick people. It terrifies me! The little money my mom has, I constantly pray that it will last and that she won't get any new expensive long-term illnesses because when her money is gone I honestly can't afford to pay for her health care. And that's just horrible to be thinking about all the time in the back of your mind.

Also, I've read quite a bit about LA's skid row hospital dumps featured in the movie... just makes me cringe with disgust. If this movie changes anything at all? Then all I can say is thank God for Michael Moore. Obnoxious fat slob or no. I want to be proud of my country and sometimes I'm just not... so if the guy makes a difference and could possibly make this country a better and easier place to live in, then bless him.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:39 PM on June 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


bardic: did you see the scene about the little girl who was refused care at MLK hospital (yes, this MLK hospital, I think) because her HMO wouldn't cover it? What's interesting to me is that the mother requested that the daughter be treated there, and they refused. I had always thought that medical care had to be given, even if a patient had to pay, and that the hospital would then have to bill the person and hope they could collect. The daughter died before she got to an in-network hospital.

When I was growing up me and my sister had government health insurance, and to this day it's really a surprise to find that some children don't. Presumably she was in the HMO because of her job, and the irony is if she'd been on welfare her daughter would have gotten better treatment. That's seriously fucked up.

And the contrast with the next scene really drives the point home.
posted by delmoi at 10:44 PM on June 17, 2007


idb - I know that exact same freaky feelng. Gets freakier when you have a family.
posted by Artw at 10:45 PM on June 17, 2007


IMHO the Tony Benn segment at 1:07:00 sent chills down my spine. because it seems so true :(
posted by spacelux at 10:51 PM on June 17, 2007


Wow, this is really good.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:52 PM on June 17, 2007


I remember reading that the US spends more tax dollars per capita on health care than Canada because it has to subsidise emergency rooms, which are packed with uninsured who wait until the last minute to seek medical attention,

It is true that the US spends a shitload of money health care, and to compare it to taxes, well. A big part of my paycheck goes to taxes, and a big part goes to health insurance -- despite the fact that I'm pretty healthy and my premiums would be far lower if they were based on my actual health risk (IMO). I can't Opt out of the insurance (not that I'd want too, it does provide piece of mind) so in effect it's like being taxed by a private, for-profit company anyway.
posted by delmoi at 10:55 PM on June 17, 2007


Man I am really inarticulate tonight.
posted by delmoi at 10:56 PM on June 17, 2007


or maybe even add something to the conversation?

I did. Look up thread -- two posts that I hope were relatively informative and free, I think, of cussing.

My (maybe rash) reaction was due to your use of the phrase "socialis/zed medicine" -- code to the Canadian listener we're about to get a lecture from an ignorant Yank who's spent too much time listening to Rush and not enough time understanding how the system works, and doesn't.

First, it has little to do with socialism nor state-controlled systems a la the EU. The federal government collects the cash, largely through paycheque deductions and mandatory employer payments, and cuts a big cheque to Canada's provincial governments. They, in turn, decide how their system works, within the context of the Canada Health Act, a federal law that guarantees the basic principles of the medicare system, such as universality, public administration (checks wikipedia), portability and accessibility.

It's in the provincial ministries of health that the rubber meets the road. They interpret the CHA and mandate how the system works: What gets covered, how much doctors get paid per service, whether a new hospital will get built, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

That's, really, where the state ends and private enterprise takes over. I work for an inner-city hospital in Vancouver; it is run by Providence Health Care, a private non-profit owned by the local Catholic diocese. People turn up at our ER, we provide care and bill the government (provided they show us their care card.) Many things -- blood tests, prescriptions -- are billed privately and paid for by the patient or their third-party insurance.

The real difference between Canada and the US is efficiency. The US system is set-up whereby if you're insured, or you have a platinum card, you can turn up at any major hospital tomorrow and get whatever medically-necessary (or many that are not) procedure. The Canadian system contains rationing. If a fellow turns up with heart pains, say, in an ER, they're assessed; if they need immediate care, like an immediate bypass, they get it. If not, they wait, based upon the severity of their underlying condition. This is a more efficient system as you can predict how many procedures you'll need to do per year -- and how many surgical teams, ORs, gloves, etc. etc. etc.

Whether the Canadian public medicare system is sustainable over the long term is in question. The system is under tremendous strain for a very simple reason: The population is aging. Concurrently, they're expecting a higher standard of care, or, rather, they're expecting care that includes the latest pharmaceuticals and medical interventions. Debate will return to the principles of the Canada Health Act: Does "comprehensiveness" mean every Canadian is guaranteed access to the highest level of care currently medically possible?

I am in public health and am thus aware that despite the best accomplishments of the governments under the Canada Health Act, inequalities -- in access to care, in standard of care, etc. -- exist in Canada. Just visit any aboriginal reservation and tell me if the local system provides as much care as a clinic in Vancouver's tonier neighbourhoods. But, compared side-by-side, there is no way the Canadian system is inferior to the US by whatever metric you want to use: economic, social or medical.
posted by docgonzo at 11:02 PM on June 17, 2007 [19 favorites]


Your spelling of the word "socialized" indicates, and pardon my use of technical lingo, you don't have a fucking clue how Canadian spelling works.

Oooo, a spelling burn. You win at teh internets.
posted by docgonzo at 11:04 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


The US system is set-up whereby if you're insured, or you have a platinum card, you can turn up at any major hospital tomorrow and get whatever medically-necessary (or many that are not) procedure.

Provided your HMO covers it, obvs.
posted by docgonzo at 11:07 PM on June 17, 2007


I'll tell you this... I just noticed that whenever I start to comment in this thread I apparently feel the need to preface it with "I'll tell you this." Which is weird.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:11 PM on June 17, 2007


As a guy who did a stint denying old people medication due to their insurance, I'm all for this movie.

'Course, he loses it in the last half an hour and forgets that he's trying to make a point instead of just leaning on hollow pathos.

Nonetheless, this is a good movie, and will hopefully cause some change. But I haven't seen any reduced murders in Oakland since "Bowling for Columbine" came out, and we've just had a "surge."
posted by OrangeDrink at 11:13 PM on June 17, 2007


Oooo, a spelling burn. You win at teh internets.

Fine, I'll give you some content-based burn: your saying that photoslob is totally wrong is...well, totally wrong.
posted by oaf at 11:22 PM on June 17, 2007


I'm actually watching this a second time.
posted by delmoi at 11:26 PM on June 17, 2007


Miss Lynster? (even though I have insurance, which already costs me over $300 a month)...

I have insurance, too, and it costs me just short of $900 per month. That includes minimal prescription coverage, so that I *only* have to pay 50% of my Rx costs (and since I have Lupus and assorted subsidiary effects, I must take many pills per day.)

I am enormously grateful that my dad's UAW contract had the coverage it did when he retired, so that he and my mom only have to pay (an enviable) $3 per Rx. But at least that's one worry off my mind.

As far as Canada and other countries with low prescription costs? That's why USAns have to pay the huge amounts we do. Someone has to pay for the multi-millions of dollars that go into research and testing of each new medication, and since the majority of European countries have price caps on their Rx's, we Americans have to make up the difference.

I've been without insurance in the past, and know how devestating it can be (I had a stroke as a result of not being able to afford my meds), but on the other hand, living just across the river from Windsor, I regularly hear news reports on Canadian stations about how Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor is closed to all except extreme emergency patients once again because of a doctor/nurse shortage. (For that matter, at least 50% of the nurses in Detroit area hospitals are Canadians, who work here because they can earn far more than what Canada's National Heath System pays.)
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:27 PM on June 17, 2007


you can predict how many procedures you'll need to do per year

Given the expert statisticians employed by the industry, you can't really say this isn't just as true of the American system.
posted by oaf at 11:27 PM on June 17, 2007


I regularly hear news reports on Canadian stations about how Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor is closed to all except extreme emergency patients once again because of a doctor/nurse shortage.

It's really bad in the eastern provinces, especially in the rural parts. Equalization payments only go so far when you have half the population of Edmonton on an island the size of Newfoundland.
posted by oaf at 11:31 PM on June 17, 2007


So what's everybody's prediction? Will there or will there not be universal health care in the US within the next 10 years?
posted by philosophistry at 11:35 PM on June 17, 2007


This had a profound effect on me as well, bringing tears to my eyes several times. This is a more subdued Michael Moore, and I appreciate it; it allows the horrors he's describing speak more eloquently for themselves.

The usual useful idiots will do their nitpicking over the film's points but I hope that for most it's impossible to deny this as an issue of fundamental decency and common sense. The part that moved me the most even in the midst of all those compelling personal stories was how essential that collective struggle was and is for these systems to function. How England, despite such poverty and uncertainty, decided at the end of the war to create the NHS. How the French take to the streets to defend their tremendous quality of life. People all over the western world laughing at the thought someone would be charged for their health care -- when's the last time you heard an American laugh about the subject? I'm far more familiar with the look and sound of abject fear when it comes to health care -- to say nothing of debt, housing, and retirement -- including my own.

We've become so easily defeated and manipulated, so sick and so tired. I've watched my girlfriends go back to work six weeks post labor with no help save that provided by family (if they have it), crying but hiding it because it's "unprofessional." I've watched coworkers and friends having yet another bake sale or barbecue for somebody with cancer. How many sad little benefits have I attended for dying people? A hat full of cash to pay for a brain tumor, for quadriplegia -- there's a brilliant safety net for you, but it's the only one most of us have.

I never want to stand in another parking lot as long as I live eating a hot dog I paid $50 for so another person can get some goddamn chemotherapy. It's inhuman. It's evil. We can do better. We have to.
posted by melissa may at 11:39 PM on June 17, 2007 [23 favorites]


Will there or will there not be universal health care in the US within the next 10 years?

It really depends on how much high-fructose corn syrup we keep shoving down our collective gullet.
posted by oaf at 11:42 PM on June 17, 2007


As far as Canada and other countries with low prescription costs? That's why USAns have to pay the huge amounts we do. Someone has to pay for the multi-millions of dollars that go into research and testing of each new medication, and since the majority of European countries have price caps on their Rx's, we Americans have to make up the difference.

Hmm...Australia has de facto price caps. It regulates which drugs will be subsidised and the government negotiates with the drug companies for a bulk deal. If you want unsubsidised drugs you pay the market rate.
If the drug companies felt it wasn't economic to sell medicine in Oz I am sure they would not.
US residents have to pay high drug prices because there is no alternative, and the massive pharma profits, and huge marketing campaigns demonstrate how good pharma has it.
Big pharma is the most profitable industry in the world. It is true it can be costly to R&D new drugs, but don't believe for a second you are not being robbed blind by the drug companies and the government's lack of offering an alternative.
As others have commented, new drugs are not dependent on Phizer et al. and they rely on the line that the US subsidises the world to maintain their windfall profits.
When the US public stops swallowing this, some reality will return to the health market.
posted by bystander at 11:44 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


"45 million people with no health care"

Actually, it should probably read "45 million with no health insurance." There is a BIG difference.
posted by davidmsc at 11:51 PM on June 17, 2007


I'll repeat that so it is clear - the US tax burden need not increase to deliver a 100% coverage health care system.

Of course it wouldn't. The problem is that Americans see healthcare as a zero-sum game where the system would be completely swamped if you were to open the floodgates. The thing they keep forgetting is the shitloads of money that insurance companies make when you're not sick. That's pure profit, baby!

If you want to know how you'd pay for a universal healthcare system, just look at the metric assload of insurance profits each year. That should pay for pretty decent care.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:51 PM on June 17, 2007


Could there be a more perfectly sinister, Dickensian name for a giant HMO than "Kaiser Permanente"? Why not call it Rex Terror or Invincible King Evil?
posted by stammer at 11:57 PM on June 17, 2007 [19 favorites]


just look at the metric assload of insurance profits each year. That should pay for pretty decent care.

Its even more insane than that, C_D. The taxes the US population pays for medicare and medicaid would cover a central healthcare system for all (not just the current medicare and medicaid recipients).
The US healtcare system costs almost twice that of Australia, and about half that is taxes, and the other half private insurance premiums. You could stop paying the private insurance and still have an equivalent system to Australia's.
posted by bystander at 11:58 PM on June 17, 2007


So what's everybody's prediction? Will there or will there not be universal health care in the US within the next 10 years?

You know, Obama is talking about "extending" Health care to more people, but not universality. I haven't heard Hillary say anything about universality either. I think Edwards is the only one (of the top three) with true universal health care.

Oddly enough Mitt Romney actually implemented "universal" health care in MA. How did he do it? By forcing everyone who could afford it to buy health insurance, from these same providers so lauded in this film. The same way you're forced to buy car insurance. But with car insurance, I can chose not to drive. I can't choose not to live. And there is the same risk of an insurance company not covering some procedure, denying claims, etc, etc.

The thing is, if everyone is forced to buy private insurance, then it pretty much becomes a tax, except that private companies get a big cut along the way. How is that even remotely reasonable? Right now private insurance companies take a mandatory slice of my paycheck every month the same way the government does. It's just like a tax but it goes to a for-profit company.

So while I think single-payer health insurance would be a good thing. Obama's plan is not single payer. Clinton dosn't seem to have a health plan on her website. There is an article about her ideas on the NYT, however it's nothing like '93. Basically she wants to fund more preventative health care and save money by reforming medical Information Technology. (Which I don't think is actually possible). There's nothing about insurance reform at all.
posted by delmoi at 11:58 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I heard Michael Moore the other day on CBC radio up here in Canada. He talked about his high esteem for Tommy Douglas, the founding father of universal health care in Canada.

Tommy Douglas was a Baptist minister who used to preach in the area of southern Saskatchewan where I grew up. He is beloved in all of Canada even by folks on the right of the political spectrum.

Here is a segment from the CBC documentary on Tommy Douglas where Tommy gives a speech on the why Canada adopted Universal Health Care (YouTube link).

This is the core of the speech and core value behind the Canadian system of universal health care.
Medicine is a universal need and it must be universally provided; a society that can't see that isn't much of a society at all.

Now no matter what they tell you when I am gone, I ask you to remember the founding principle of this party, the principle I have fought for in Parliament and out of Parliament my entire life. It is very simple actually. It is the principle that we are all in this world together and the only test of our character that matters is how we look after the least fortunate among us. How we look after each other, not how we look after ourselves and that is all that really matters I think.
posted by dougzilla at 12:01 AM on June 18, 2007 [15 favorites]


So to answer the question, no I don't think we'll see normal universal health care like NIH or the Canadian system. Instaid I think we'll see some Frankenstein beast where private, for-profit insurance companies still exist and people are forced to buy in.
posted by delmoi at 12:02 AM on June 18, 2007


doesn't seem as though we as a people are all that free when we've got so much fear and anxiety in just living our lives.
posted by andywolf at 12:17 AM on June 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thanks dougzilla, it's about time someone quoted Tommy Douglas in this thread. For those of you who haven't heard of him, Canadians revere him as the father of our health care system. It wasn't much of a surprise when he came out on top of CBC's "Greatest Canadian" thing. I was watching CBC's lame politics show a few days ago, and someone said something that pretty much sums up the Canadian sentiment on our system. Basically, the point made was that Canadians might get upset if a Prime Minister or Premier screws with the constitution, but if they start to mess with the Canada Health Act, that's when people really get livid.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:20 AM on June 18, 2007


Wouldn't it be nice if people were healthy and able to work, plus living longer lives, which equals to paying more taxes to the government?
posted by spacelux at 12:22 AM on June 18, 2007


I thought Moore kind of missed a step when he talked to the British doctor. Sure, it's clear that British MD's have upper-middle class lifestyles, but maybe not three houses like the wealthiest American doctors, but honestly -- who doesn't think a good doctor shouldn't be rich? They go to school for a decade, they help people, they save lives, they do good things under the right circumstances. Let them jet to Maui all they want in their free time.

The problem is that the real fat-cats in the American system aren't the doctors -- it's the HMO middle-men bureaucrats, who don't know and don't care about the actual health of any given patient. Some of these people have made obscene amounts of money under the drive to "freedomize" American health-care. And they've never worked on honest day in their lives.
posted by bardic at 12:22 AM on June 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't know that I fully agree with the rosey picture painted by bystander about the current state of Australian health care. One very large consideration of the last few years is that there has been a virtual bludgeon to anyone with a job such that they have a fairly hefty tax slug if they don't take out private health insurance, something vaguely akin to what delmoi seems to be describing about Massachusetts I guess. We are having our national health system eroded too by private health companies doing deals with the government so that the norm now is for private hospitals to be sharing the same grounds with the original public hospitals. So we are having a privatisation by stealth.

Don't get me wrong, the possibility of bankruptcy or huge debt are not really a threat or a discussion topic, but the principal of user pays is becoming more pervasive every day.

And although my opinion is worth squat, the only way I could see the US changing tack in any serious way on health care funding is to first limit or outlaw lobbying and/or political donations by health/pharma. Change that and then you only have to overcome right wing fearmongering of 'socialised medicine' and 'soviet system'. Then you'll be home free. *cough*
posted by peacay at 12:29 AM on June 18, 2007


Bravo! I'm still wiping tears from my eyes.

It is unconscionable that "America" cannot provide universal health-care to all citizens. Get with the program, USA!
posted by trip and a half at 12:33 AM on June 18, 2007


Peacay is right that the current conservative government in Australia is dismantling Australia's health system in favour of a for profit private system.
The tax slug he mentions is applied to individuals earning over average income ($50k-ish) or couples/familes earning over $100k. This slug is an additional 1% income tax, not collected if you had private insurance for the previous year.
While it is disgraceful, it is so many million miles away from the magnitude of the problem non-wealthy US citizens face, AU comparitively does not have a problem.
There are still problems with the AU system, but it offers a model that does not exclude private enterprise, but still offers full coverage, that could work in America.
Well, if the public ever stops listening to the vested interests in the HMOs and big pharma.
posted by bystander at 1:24 AM on June 18, 2007


who doesn't think a good doctor shouldn't be rich?

*raises hand*

I don't think a good doctor should be richer than a good teacher.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:37 AM on June 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


I don't think a good doctor should be richer than a good teacher.

Amen. But my point is that back in the 70's and 80's, people bitched about incompetent doctors being paid too much. Now we've got a whole tier of brokers in the middle, many of whom make more than good doctors (the ones who don't go into rhinoplasty, for example).

The irony is that privatizing the American health-care system was supposed to make the whole enterprise more affordable on the consumer end and give more choices. And this is where I heartily laugh out loud.

If you live in Cuba and can't get good chemo because they don't have the supplies, that sucks. If you live in America and can't get it because some branch manager is trying to save money for his shareholders, that's immoral, plain and simple.
posted by bardic at 1:45 AM on June 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Laura Dern starred in a disturbing drama about the whistle-blowing Dr Linda Peeno, the woman who gave testimony before Congress about the managed care industry early in Moore's film. ("I am here primarily today to make a public confession. In the spring of 1987, as a physician, I denied a man a necessary operation that would have saved his life and thus caused his death.") If you can find it it's really worth a look.
posted by maryh at 1:53 AM on June 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is part of a speech made by Aneurin ('Nye') Bevan, who was the Minister of Health responsible for the creation of the UK's National Health Service. The speech was made not long before he died in 1960.

"I'm proud about the National Health Service. It's a piece of real socialism. It's a piece of real Christianity too.” (Huge audience applause)

"We had to wait a long time for it.

"What I had in mind when we organised the National Health Service in 1946 to 1958, and remember when we did it, you younger ones, this was immediately after the end of the Second World War, when we were as Sir Winston Churchill then said, "a bankrupt nation". But nevertheless we did these things. And there is nowhere in any nation in the world, communist or capitalist, any health service to compare with it.

"Now the National Health Service had two main principles underlining it. One, that the medical arts of science and of healing should be made available to people when they needed them, irrespective of whether they could afford to pay for them or not. That was the first principle. The second was that this should be done not at the expense of the poorer members of the community, but of the well-to-do. In short, I refused to accept the insurance principle. I refused to accept the principle that the National Health Service should be paid by contributions. I refused to accept that. I refused to accept it because I thought it was nonsense. If you hadn’t fully paid up you couldn’t have a second-class operation because your card wasn’t full of stamps, could you?"

Take away what conclusions you will.

You can find the speech on the British Library CD "The Century in Sound" (2000), which I recommend wholeheartedly.
posted by Hogshead at 1:58 AM on June 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


Will there or will there not be universal health care in the US within the next 10 years?

I can't see it ever happening in the US. If the current political machinery stays in place (lobbyists, big pharma, etc) things will just stay like they are (read: completely fucked up).

I have a little story I like to tell my British friends:

When I worked for a big corporation, I was paying about $200 a month for a family health plan (plus copay, plus $1000 deductible). After I stopped working there, the insurance company called up and offered to keep me on their rolls for $750 a month (for the same semi-rubbish plan).

No one believes me.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:15 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you live in Cuba and can't get good chemo because they don't have the supplies, that sucks. If you live in America and can't get it because some branch manager is trying to save money for his shareholders, that's immoral, plain and simple.

I wholeheartedly agree. The system, as it stands, is completely unethical. UnHippocratic, even (to coin a word).
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:19 AM on June 18, 2007


Ah, Nye Bevan. A truly great man whose memory and achievements this current government in the UK are slowly grinding into the dirt. And now they've started, there's no turning back. Give it ten years and the UK will be like the US is now.
posted by ninthart at 2:25 AM on June 18, 2007


As someone who is faced with that 1% income tax increase, I think anyone earning $50k+ should be paying for health insurance. Our system is not limitlessly funded, and will provide better care with for people who can't afford health insurance if a few more people who can afford it buy it.

My biggest concerns with the Australian system is what the long term effects of the changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and PBS in general over the last few years will be. It stuns me that a government that has to fund the PBS would weaken the bargaining power of the PBAC as they have.

This Four Corners story on the changes to the PBAC in 2001 angered me like few stories before or since, even though I haven't purchased PBS listed medications in years. Every time I hear of blowouts in the cost of the PBS I think about it and wonder.
posted by markr at 2:29 AM on June 18, 2007


Thanks for that Hogshead. The NHS, for all its problems, is still much, much better than the American "alternative". (your-favourite-first-world-country-actually-kinda-sucks-filter)

Living here in the UK means that you can live my life in ways that you can't in America... because of the NHS.

Hear me out:

In an American couple/family unit, one of the parents will usually take one for the team and get some job they dislike because it has a health care plan. That's a life altering decision (read: soul-destroying) to make, believe me. Ex: "I really want to be a woodcarver, but I'm going to take job in middle management so my family will be covered"

If I get pissed off and quit my job here in Britain, I might have trouble paying the bills until I get a new gig... but I wouldn't have to worry what would happen if someone in my family fell ill.

I think this paradigm also explains why customer services in Britain is so astoundingly awful, but that's best left for another thread.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:32 AM on June 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Others have said this already, but I just wanted to chime in by saying how shocking the depiction of the US health care system was in this movie. As a Canadian, I found the part about the 9/11 workers having to hold their own raffles to raise money for treatment to be almost not believable. I guess I felt like the Canadian girl in the waiting room, who said she'd heard about the American system, but didn't really understand it.

I know this movie is directed at Americans, in part to educate them about the way health care works outside of the States, but it also did a good job of showing the rest of us how messed up things are down there. My sympathies to those of you who find yourself mired within that system.
posted by good in a vacuum at 2:40 AM on June 18, 2007


So what's everybody's prediction? Will there or will there not be universal health care in the US within the next 10 years?

10 years is three elections from now. 10 years is a potential, but by no means certain knowing Americans, groundswell from now. 10 years is too far to tell.
posted by JHarris at 2:42 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nonetheless, this is a good movie, and will hopefully cause some change. But I haven't seen any reduced murders in Oakland since "Bowling for Columbine" came out, and we've just had a "surge."

One movie cannot change things. If it could the world would be damn unstable (well, even more so), for if the public were so easily swayed then dozens of people would start making movies, and considering that there's typically a strong correlation between money (the quantity needed to make a film) and evil, that wouldn't be so good a thing.

What these movies do is spread the word. Of course the entrenched interests will rally against it and cloud the issue, and lie to discredit it, and take absolutely any little thing that's even slightly misstated and trumpet it as proof of the film's utter baselessness.

They will do all that, and many people will even believe them. But some of them will remember the movie's statements, and when they have direct experience with its truth they'll see the movie wasn't wrong after all, and their minds will be shifted some amount towards reality.
posted by JHarris at 2:50 AM on June 18, 2007


My stepdad's a doctor, and you've never met someone who hates health insurance companies like him. As he points out, rationing performed by insurance companies means that the insurance companies are practicising medicine without a license.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:22 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


As someone who is faced with that 1% income tax increase, I think anyone earning $50k+ should be paying for health insurance.
Agreed that those earning more should contribute more (and they already do via progressive income taxation), but the problem with private insurance is that the insurers need to make a profit, and after you pay $1400 a year you feel entitled to something.
Consequently, you can now get a pair of running shoes refunded on some plans, or pilates etc.
While I can see the argument that these are preventative measures, it really is a bit silly to pay insurance then go through the bureaucracy of a claim rather than not pay insurance and pay for your own damn shoes.
This isn't true for real medical care, but unfortunately in AU private healthcare insurance is mainly for elective of non-emergency medicine, or to allow people choices like their own private room or a surgeon they had recommended.
So we have the situation where a family earning $100k+ AU pesos must pay an additional 1% tax, which would fund better hospitals for all, or take out hospital cover through a for profit (often) insurer for $700 that covers only elective or non-emergency care.
On top of this, there is no compulsion to use the cover once it has been purchased, so, for example, if I needed a pacemaker, I could wait on a list until I got one for $0 from the public system, or go now into a private hospital where I have a co-pay (admittedly small, $50 per day in my case).
So in most cases, most people just take the free option resulting in no benefit to the public hospital system, forfeited extra tax, and a payment to the private insurer for, effectively, nothing.
So we have the government shooting itself in the foot by trying to prop up a poor value private system by penalty taxes and even more ridiculously, a 30% rebate on contributions!
This is what happens when political ideology drives policy to exclusion of sense.
I say make the 1% compulsory, direct the funds from the current 30% rebate into public care, but give a tax deduction for private cover up to, say $1500 (for medical insurance, not shoes).
That would let the market decide whether private care was worthwhile, and deliver a better public system.
posted by bystander at 3:43 AM on June 18, 2007


While I can see the argument that these are preventative measures, it really is a bit silly to pay insurance then go through the bureaucracy of a claim rather than not pay insurance and pay for your own damn shoes.

And the insurance companies are counting on you to make this analysis. That way they get the publicity of offering the services without all that messy having to pay for them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:54 AM on June 18, 2007


A few thoughts from a Canadian woman living in America.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:27 AM on June 18, 2007


Since the whole idea behind socialized medicine is to take peoples' stuff without their permission, it might be a little hypocritical for Michael Moore to object to the film being online. But he's surely not the only money behind the film, so there may be other producers oiling their lawyers.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 4:30 AM on June 18, 2007


hdwow writes Since the whole idea behind socialized medicine is to take peoples' stuff without their permission

So if Jesus H. Science/God/Yahweh/Baal takes your life through, say, an undiagnosed and untreated tumor, I guess we shouldn't mourn or anything, try to help you or anything, because you must have given your permission, right?
posted by bardic at 4:41 AM on June 18, 2007


Since the whole idea behind socialized medicine is to take peoples' stuff without their permission

Wait... What?

'Take people's stuff' - what, taxes? What?
posted by Happy Dave at 4:58 AM on June 18, 2007


Since the whole idea behind socialized medicine is to take peoples' stuff without their permission, it might be a little hypocritical for Michael Moore to object to the film being online

Huh. Did you give your insurance company permission to take money out of your paycheck? For most employer-covered health insurance, the answer is no.
posted by delmoi at 5:01 AM on June 18, 2007


Viva Canada

...just interesting - at time of posting 75% dit 'oui'
posted by Flashman at 5:12 AM on June 18, 2007


I guess I felt like the Canadian girl in the waiting room, who said she'd heard about the American system, but didn't really understand it.

Keep that in mind when anyone talks about changing the system in Canada. Some of us Americans have high-hopes of becoming citizens one day, and the issue of healthcare is one of the big reasons. You simply can't be expected to live as a happy old person if you're constantly worrying about how you're going to pay for your medicine.

What gets me so misty-eyed was the doctors interviewed from the other countries. When asked, "Have you ever had to turn down medical service to someone because of money?" they just had this horrified look on their faces, like, How could I dare? I'm a fucking doctor."

It just makes you feel gob-smacked to think that, hey, here are people who have all collectively just decided that this is the right thing to do, and then did it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:22 AM on June 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Canada's healthcare system sometimes suffers from waiting lists due a lack of specialists for non-urgent care; knee surgery is a good example. If you suffer something like a sports injury, and you need a specific complicated surgery, and it's obviously not urgent, you may have to wait weeks or months on a waiting list. Rich people often fly down to the States to get these sorts of surgeries. (Recently, private clinics have been allowed to operate within Canada, providing for-profit care... the "two tier" health care system is a popular debate as of late...) Similarly, MRIs and other expensive tests can also sometimes take a while. I think Ontario has it particularly bad as of late.

Generally you only wait if doctors believe it will not harm you further. Health care is never denied, and emergency care is expedient, and completely free.

We aren't covered completely when it comes to our eyes though, there are deductibles on things like eye exams, contact lenses, glasses, etc. Similarly, there is a small deductible on prescription drugs (I believe I pay the first $10), but these are often over 10 times cheaper here than in the States to begin with. Claritin, the allergy medicine, is non-prescription (not covered) and costs $15/dozen here; I'm told it costs approximately that per pill in the states. The Canadian government has control over what pharmaceutical companies are allowed to charge, and it's a bit of a constant war. We also don't allow "re-patenting": in the States, if a company finds a new purpose for an old drug, it may be re-patented and they get to charge through the nose all over again. Thalidomide is a terrifying example of this.

Many employers offer extended health plans which will cover all of your out-of-pocket expenses on an annual basis; you just save receipts and they reimburse you.

Finally, one major sticking point with Canadians is the difficulty of obtaining experimental treatments; the Canadian government has to approve treatments as viable before it will cover costs, and so very often tabloids feature stories of dying cancer patients who can't afford the experimental new drugs that may save their life, despite the fact they're available in the States. So we don't have quite as many options available to us, but I guess those people wouldn't be able to afford it if they were Americans, either.
posted by mek at 5:29 AM on June 18, 2007


Doctors are like cops, in that there are many good ones and many bad ones. IMO, they're mostly good, dedicated, and want to help people. Then again, sometimes they fuck up big-time.

As much as I found the film to be thought-provoking and mostly well-done, I think Moore really missed some opportunities. In my experience, and as mentioned above, good doctors hate the HMO's and insurance companies as much as the rest of us do, since they simply get in the way of the obvious goal -- treat people and make them better.

It would have been nice to have seen him simply talk to some American docs and nurses about the situation. I don't think he had to go to Cuba or France to make such a basic point. Americans spend money to finance Kaiser Permanente and its shareholders and, if things go well and you can afford a lawyer, to get the health-care you need. It sure as shit doesn't go to making people well and healthy, not directly at least.
posted by bardic at 5:31 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm watching the American healthcare system work its magic right now on my family. My stepmother was diagnosed with lymphoma earlier this year. She's undergoing chemo and is doing as well as someone with lymphoma can (it's one of the "nicer" cancers to have.) She has health insurance, but it's through the job she'll probably have to quit since the chemo knocks her flat for half the week. And even with the health insurance, the amount of what she owes after co-pays is going to be high in the five digits before all is said and done.

Hell, she got a bill for $4000 because the hospital sent her biopsies to a facility that was not Approved by her insurance company, so they refused to cover any and all of the biopsy work. Nobody told her this until she got the bill. It's gone to the collectors and she says they can have it.

Surviving cancer in America is like winning the lottery. You have beaten incredible odds to get where you are, but now you are going to be in such financial trouble...
posted by Spatch at 5:33 AM on June 18, 2007


"Since the whole idea behind socialized medicine is to take peoples' stuff without their permission..."

You've gotta love libertarianism.

"OMG THAT CHILDRENS HOSPITAL IS ON FIRE!!!! CALL 911!!!!"

"I'll be happy to call 911, but only if the firefighters are funded through voluntary contributions or charitable gifts. Otherwise their "life-saving" is really just collectivist tyrrany enforced at gunpoint. Say, have you read Atlas Shrugged? Its the shizzle...."
posted by Avenger at 5:42 AM on June 18, 2007 [11 favorites]


If you suffer something like a sports injury, and you need a specific complicated surgery, and it's obviously not urgent, you may have to wait weeks or months on a waiting list.

Anecdotally, this happened to me in college. The first doctor I saw (I had "good" insurance btw) misdiagnosed me with a sprain and sent me home with a foam cast for an undiagnosed ACL tear (ended up paying 20% of the cost for this btw, which by American standards is exceptionally cheap). Went back to my dorm, took a shower, and promptly dislocated my knee and tore a hell of a lot more cartilage. Long story short, I got the supposedly "good" care, had it covered, still had to pay twenty percent out of pocket for the emergency room visit and x-rays, and yet, no accountability for the doc who was too distracted/drunk/bored to do his job properly.

So I go see another doc, who lets me know that I'd done more damage to my knee. Like he was Quincy or something. But at least he knew what he was doing and got me in touch with a capable orthopedic surgeon. Who told me that with ACL tears, it's best to wait eight weeks anyways to let the knee settle down a bit, and to avoid more trauma to the soft tissue. Honestly, I believed him at the time, but this might have been total bullshit as well.

So who the fuck knows. The official knee doctor for the Ohio State University ended up doing my surgery, and again, with "good" coverage it still ran about four thousand dollars. My knee is in good shape to this day, and for that I'm grateful, but at the same time, I'd happily have been playing rugby in Cuba instead of Ohio at the time if some "good" doctor hadn't fucked me over. At the very least, a real doctor would have told me he had no fucking clue what he was doing and gone back to reading his golfing magazine. Because if I'd just followed my own instincts (my knee is fucked, I shouldn't put any weight on it any time soon) I would have been a lot better off.
posted by bardic at 5:49 AM on June 18, 2007


Claritin, the allergy medicine, is non-prescription (not covered) and costs $15/dozen here; I'm told it costs approximately that per pill in the states.

Claritin is now non-rx here, too, and I think the cost is about the same.

On the "waiting list for surgery" issue: Heck, waiting a few weeks to a few months for non-life-threatening surgery is common in the US as well. Even a specialist appointment can be that long of a wait. I made an appointment for my daughter with a orthopedic doctor and the soonest opening was 3 weeks out. That's just to get checked!

On the other hand, I had a Canadian friend who needed surgery, but she had to have it in the US due to the lack of specialists in Canada. (Don't ask what kind of surgery, I don't remember.

No system is perfect. But surely the US system can be better.
posted by The Deej at 6:01 AM on June 18, 2007


Thirty minutes into this, I feel like going outside to kiss the Canadian soil.
posted by autodidact at 6:13 AM on June 18, 2007


Since the whole idea behind socialized medicine is to take peoples' stuff without their permission, it might be a little hypocritical for Michael Moore to object to the film being online. But he's surely not the only money behind the film, so there may be other producers oiling their lawyers.

Wow. That statement contains three kinds of stupid.

1. Socialized medicine doesn't anything to do with taking people's stuff. With or without their permission.

2. Neither does socialism. Or taxes. What are you, twelve?

3. Michael Moore does NOT object to free sharing of his films -- there's a link above that proves it.
posted by grubi at 6:27 AM on June 18, 2007


I was actually denied insurance once because it was on my record that my doctor had given me SAMPLES of Claritin once.

Another time I was denied health insurance because they said I was pregnant, I hadn't dated in months. Turned out that my doctor's office had sent the insurance company someone else's file with a similar name.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:30 AM on June 18, 2007


I don't think a good doctor should be richer than a good teacher.

You're right; it's not like doctors do brain surgery or anything.

Similarly, there is a small deductible on prescription drugs (I believe I pay the first $10), but these are often over 10 times cheaper here than in the States to begin with.

I don't think Ontario's plan covers prescriptions at all unless you're living in penury.
posted by oaf at 6:39 AM on June 18, 2007


best
posted by acro at 6:40 AM on June 18, 2007


Damn, don't even get me started on this topic. The insurance/health care system in this country is beyond broken. It needs to be blown up and started all over. Barring that, I urge everyone to look into John Edwards' proposals - he seems to me to be the only candidate critically looking at this issue.

My personal insurance hell at the moment goes like this: I am 46 and have insulin-dependent diabetes, my wife is 41 and has mild hypertension, and my seven-year-old son has allergy-related asthma. Since changing jobs (involuntarily, FWIW) I've had to pay the whole premiums for my family's health insurance. I will have to pay for three months, until my new company insurance kicks in. For the penalty of having "pre-existing" conditions, I pay $1900/month - with a $2,000 deductible, $40 copays, and absolutely no prescription coverage. So it's basically major medical for 2 grand a month. My insulin and my son's medicine run about $400/month.

On any sane planet, this is robbery.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:45 AM on June 18, 2007


Will there or will there not be universal health care in the US within the next 10 years?

No, because Americans are too fucking stupid to know what's good for them. They'll fall for equating socialized medicine with Communism and object to raising taxes even though health care premiums are a de facto tax and we don't get what we're paying for.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:55 AM on June 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


I don't think Ontario's plan covers prescriptions at all unless you're living in penury.

Yeah, well, maybe I am! Excuse me while I go look up penury.
posted by mek at 7:01 AM on June 18, 2007


I was all ready to bitch about the NHS on here (hell, I even posted about how this government had picked up the let's-break-up-the-NHS-on-the-quiet ball that the last one dropped and was running full tilt), but after watching Sicko, I thank everything that is Holy that I live here in the UK and not there in the US.

And to all of you equating socialised medicine with the evil red menace? Maybe you should fly over here and get a check up from the neck up. Don't do it there though - it'll cost you too much fucking money.

Or, on preview, what kirkaracha said.
posted by ninthart at 7:05 AM on June 18, 2007


I urge everyone to look into John Edwards' proposals

I urge everyone to shit on John Edwards. Making your fortune suing physicians is a sure-fire way to have zero credibility on any healthcare topic.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:07 AM on June 18, 2007


Being serious, you're right in that prescription drugs are not covered by the Canada Health Act, but rather on a provincial basis. BC's PharmaCare covers people on a sliding scale based on income and some other factors. www.drugcoverage.ca has details for each province.
posted by mek at 7:10 AM on June 18, 2007


I urge everyone to shit on John Edwards. Making your fortune suing physicians is a sure-fire way to have zero credibility on any healthcare topic.

If the worth of an idea was dependent on our previous behavior(s), we would all need to STFU.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:14 AM on June 18, 2007


"I had a yeast infection. That's all it was. I'm still bitter."

(LOL)
posted by autodidact at 7:20 AM on June 18, 2007


I think Moore made a mistake by going to Cuba in the film. It gives all the naysayers the opportunity to play the "OMGWTFCOMMIES!!!~```!" card. And then they'll just say "how do we know they weren't staging that for his benefit? Y'ever hear about propaganda?" Sigh.

Like bardic, I would have liked to see him talk to some American medical professionals about the current situation instead of the Cuba visit. (FWIW, the doctors I have known have universally despised our status quo. One of them left the country to practice elsewhere because he was so disgusted by the insurance racket here.)

Here's some anecdotal dirt on the insurance industry. (I might have posted this here before, but I don't remember.) In the 80s I was temping for a while, and spent a week or two at a famous insurance company, one which was mentioned in this film. I was filing paperwork.

I remember quite clearly looking at a file and seeing that it was the file of a woman who had some sort of injury from an accident. And on her file it said (as well as I can remember): "Her complaints are legitimate, but she doesn't know her rights, and she is not going to fight if we cut her off." And then it either said that she had been denied coverage, or was about to be denied coverage.

I've never quite understood why that would have been in writing where a temp like me could see it. And I've always wished I'd had the opportunity to photocopy it. I will never ever do business with that company if I can help it, and I have no trust in insurance companies whatsoever.
posted by litlnemo at 7:23 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


For the penalty of having "pre-existing" conditions, I pay $1900/month - with a $2,000 deductible, $40 copays, and absolutely no prescription coverage.

Christ, that is some highway-fucking-robbery right there. Particularly since it's the prescriptions that are the recurring expense. Does it even cover the cost of needles?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:23 AM on June 18, 2007


Does it even cover the cost of needles?

Nothing. Nada. Zip.

And I shopped for the policy. There are many worse ones out there.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:26 AM on June 18, 2007


Just a comment, Moore does approve of piracy, but this is just one more reason to support him. So, if you like the film, why not take a republican family member to see it?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:41 AM on June 18, 2007


In 1999 I was having heart palpitations. Since I was i college and still under my parents' insurance, I got an ECG to see what was the matter. The doctor told me that I had an arrhythmia, but that it was not a threat to my health if I took care of myself and that he wasn't going to diagnose me with anything because it would probably damage my ability to get future insurers to cover anything heart-related. I was grateful for this foresight.

Fast forward three years, when I am trying to get my own health insurance plan. The insurance office calls me to tell me that they are willing to issue me a policy, but with a rider excepting all heart conditions because of my pre-existing condition. I pointed out to them that I had seen a cardiologist for tests but that they were inconclusive and he hadn't diagnosed me with anything. They said sorry, but the test itself was enough to warrant the rider. Oh.

It's total lunacy and I can't believe how many people I know are walking around with painful wisdom teeth and saving their pennies.
posted by hermitosis at 7:44 AM on June 18, 2007


I was denied health insurance because they said I was pregnant...

How the hell is that legal?!
posted by ODiV at 7:48 AM on June 18, 2007


Hey, let's make healthcare free! And I'd like some free bread to eat at that new government circus down the street...
posted by tadellin at 7:49 AM on June 18, 2007


And it's gone.

We're sorry, but this video may not be available.

Try refreshing the page to see this video.

posted by Dave Faris at 7:51 AM on June 18, 2007


Looks like it's gone.
posted by NationalKato at 7:54 AM on June 18, 2007


I'm still watching it... is the stream gonna cut off?
posted by autodidact at 7:56 AM on June 18, 2007


Nope, they'll just pick a few examples and really put the screws to them while completely ignoring the rest. Thanks for volunteering to take one for the team!

Well, they'd better hurry up then. Still haven't been sued! Still about as worried as I should be about it!
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 7:56 AM on June 18, 2007


I found another copy on Google Video that's working, for the moment.
posted by waxpancake at 7:58 AM on June 18, 2007


Hey, let's make healthcare free! And I'd like some free bread to eat at that new government circus down the street...

That's the typical doctrinaire horseshit that keeps fucked-up things fucked up.

If you can demonstrate that the present system works, by all means, feel free to do so. I promise I'll listen.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:02 AM on June 18, 2007


Government circus?
posted by mek at 8:08 AM on June 18, 2007


Hey, let's make healthcare free! And I'd like some free bread to eat at that new government circus down the street...

When the fire department has to take out tadellin's wall to harness his bloated Cheeto-fueled ass onto the heli-stretcher after years of near-motionless babbling about the evils those lazy greedy liberals have inflicted upon society, I hope they decide at that point he would hate to be transported to the cardiac unit by a socialized government service and send him a check. Also, I hope he doesn't snatch and eat one of their dalmatians.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:13 AM on June 18, 2007


I have paid medical insurance premiums at every job I've had for the past 10 years or so. I've never really been sick or used the insurance until this year when my wife had a complicated labor & delivery. We were in the hospital five or six days. It was an "in-network" hospital. Our bill was somewhere around $30K and we'll pay about $10K out of pocket. Problem is, not every anesthesiologist and pathologist in the "in network" hospital is "in network"--that means all "out of network" charges are over and above our $1200 deductible and our $4000 "maximum out of pocket" charges. I kind of felt like the woman here who says "what was I supposed to do? Pick up my cell phone off the street and get preapproved for the ambulance ride?" "Oh, we'll wait for an in-network anesthesiologist to come here and give my wife some medication, it's fine!" Ladies, if you have a C-section (in the US) and do not have insurance, your options are welfare or bankruptcy.
Seriously, how hard is it to emigrate to France or the UK?
posted by mattbucher at 8:21 AM on June 18, 2007


Working for congress I can tell you one thing...
Things will never change. the ones with means will get care, those without will not. It is the way it is and will remain so, until we change the nature of how we in the US elect our govt.

The health care industry (and I would like to throw in the pharma companies as well) spend so much money on congress, that anyone who dares to challenge them is just simply run out of office.

I ask you this: Why is it that Americans have to pay More for prescription drugs then our neighbors to the north OR south? The drugs are already made in American, but the simple act of shipping them to Canada and then shipping them back allows one to save more than 50% on the cost of the drug (even after you include the shipping) But the FDA says they "might not be safe" Does the shipping cause the drugs to not be safe? Does the act of crossing a border make them not safe? What is it?

Why is it that an industry that makes Billions in profit need tax breaks? Why is it that an industry that makes Billions in profit need to rely on research done at the NIH at taxpayer expense? Why? Because of Congress and the money that drug companies give to Congress.
posted by photodegas at 8:23 AM on June 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Yeah, well, maybe I am!

Your profile says you're in Vancouver.

I remember quite clearly looking at a file and seeing that it was the file of a woman who had some sort of injury from an accident. And on her file it said (as well as I can remember): "Her complaints are legitimate, but she doesn't know her rights, and she is not going to fight if we cut her off." And then it either said that she had been denied coverage, or was about to be denied coverage.

I believe I have posted this before, but whatever insurance company my mom had in the mid '80s required all claims to be on a particular form, with the provider statements attached. Repeatedly, my parents sent in claim forms with the provider statements attached, and the insurance company would detach the forms, send them back separately, and deny the claim because they weren't together.

When the fire department has to take out tadellin's wall to harness his bloated Cheeto-fueled ass onto the heli-stretcher after years of near-motionless babbling about the evils those lazy greedy liberals have inflicted upon society, I hope they decide at that point he would hate to be transported to the cardiac unit by a socialized government service and send him a check. sell the rest of his house to pay for it.
posted by oaf at 8:30 AM on June 18, 2007


anybody have a working link to the film?
posted by subtle_squid at 8:30 AM on June 18, 2007


The Canadian system contains rationing.

As a friend of mine points out, so does the US system. It's just that Canadian rationing is determined by the patient's need, and the US one by the patient's ability to pay.

I wish there were a government requirement that (so-called) employer contributions to health insurance premiums be reflected on each and every paycheck, so that people here got a more realistic view of how much they're really paying. Right now it seems that loads of people think that the amount they officially pay is the whole premium. I wonder if they'd start thinking differently about that whole "higher taxes!" thing if they knew. Or whether people might start thinking a little differently if they really understood how much of the money in our system goes to duplicative systems and paperwork and the administrative costs related to those for oh, 7 or 8 different insurance companies for each doctor.

When I left my job, I was offered COBRA coverage: $660 or so per month. Just for me. For crappy insurance. I can't afford that. And since I have (a diagnosis of) MS, I'm otherwise uninsurable, even though I've always refused treatment for it. So now I just hope I don't get sick or that I die quickly, if I do.

Another fun story about waiting lists: when I first went to the doctor to discuss the fact that I sometimes couldn't walk, or feel my feet, I had insurance through the university I was attending at the time. The doctor wanted me to see a neurologist, but of course my insurance didn't cover anything like that (and at the time, parents' insurance could still legally cut students off a 22, and I was over that and in law school). It was another 4 or 5 years before I actually saw a doctor and got the diagnosis (and at that, my current GP doesn't feel that it was all that thoroughly checked out, but oh well, it's not killed me yet). So much for insurance. So much for our wonderful freedom from waiting lists here in the U.S.
posted by dilettante at 8:32 AM on June 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Whoa! Tommy Douglas is Keifer Sutherland's grandfather!
posted by mattbucher at 8:33 AM on June 18, 2007


I ask you this: Why is it that Americans have to pay More for prescription drugs then our neighbors to the north OR south?

Price ceilings in the other countries mean that the pharmaceutical companies have to do all their breaking even with our wallets.
posted by oaf at 8:33 AM on June 18, 2007


Breaking even?
posted by ODiV at 8:39 AM on June 18, 2007


Price ceilings in the other countries mean that the pharmaceutical companies have to do all their breaking even with our wallets.

Yeah, those poor pharmaceutical companies are barely breaking even.
posted by mattbucher at 8:39 AM on June 18, 2007


It really is fucking insane to be an American these days.

word.
posted by brevator at 8:40 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


OK, fine. Breaking even, and then some. But if everyone had price controls, research would stagnate unless run by the government (which you would end up paying for anyway).
posted by oaf at 8:44 AM on June 18, 2007


But if everyone had price controls, research would stagnate unless run by the government (which you would end up paying for anyway).

Please understand that basic research is already paid for by the US government, which pharmaceutical and biotech corporations either license or turn into value-added products like Viagra and Rogaine. This is without price controls.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:53 AM on June 18, 2007


I only got five hours of sleep last night because when I saw this link at 9:30 PM, I decided to watch it while it was there, Yarrrrr. That said I will be at the theatre the first weekend it plays in New Orleans and I will have as many of my friends as I can drag along with me.
posted by localroger at 8:54 AM on June 18, 2007


As mentioned earlier, the NIH pays for a significant amount of medical research and development (30% nationwide?). Also, private donors have always been willing to fund medical research. Hell, Michael Dell is building a whole children's hospital here in Austin. I remember Dave Eggers saying he gave $100K to a cancer research center in Denver. Millions of dollars are flowing into research. The profits of pharmaceutical companies and insurance giants are independent of this. Why do drug companies spend billions of dollars every year advertising drugs that are available by prescription only?
posted by mattbucher at 8:55 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm fascinated by this research stagnation argument. What's the point of giving tax breaks etc to enormously profitable drugs companies and HMOS in the name of 'stimulating research' when the system that the products of that research will eventually enter is so screwed that obtaining and paying for healthcare is the single most stressful, undignified and deeply unjust process Americans encounter?

In simple terms, what's the point of coming up with a whiz-bang new cancer drug if most of the people in your healthcare system are bankrupted by seeking treatment?

Way to get the priorities straight.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:55 AM on June 18, 2007


value-added products like Viagra and Rogaine.

Reminds me of the hospital scene in Idiocracy.
posted by mattbucher at 8:58 AM on June 18, 2007


Your profile says you're in Vancouver.

I meant maybe I am (in penury). I meant it as a joke, but these GST refund cheques say otherwise...
posted by mek at 8:59 AM on June 18, 2007


As one of those people that had to deal with insurance companies on behalf of patients, one can only imagine the outright fucking lunacy we had to go through just to get a patient covered.

We were a drug and alcohol treatment center. Around the same time that insurance companies started refusing to cover this type of treatment, we had to get creative with "dual-diagnosis." If a patient came in and was being treated for their addiction in addition to and eating disorder, it was easier to get them covered. If the patient had a MPD in addition to their addiction, the got coverage. Our particular treatment unit became experienced at setting up Special Need tracks to run concurrent with their addiction treatment. It was always a :::wink::wink:::: sort of thing but we all knew it was the ONLY way and insurance company would consider benefits. A huge reason I got out of this field was that I was always in the middle of what the insurance company thought was an appropriate length of stay and what the reality of the patient progress was. I discharged patients who had no business whatsoever, being out on the streets or left to their own devices. I don't not have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I actually ran into former patients on the street who were back in the same shape and worse.

Yeah, the system needs to be gutted and I hope this movie is somewhat of an impetus for that gutting.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:59 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


'I should post that to the movie thread at metafilter ..'
posted by acro at 9:00 AM on June 18, 2007


@oaf: A recent Economist article on drug companies, patents, and the effects thereof, focusing on compulsory licensing.
posted by youarenothere at 9:04 AM on June 18, 2007


I'm afraid any attempts at a working universal health care would be sabotaged by our existing patent system and our pharmaceutical lobby. Take the re-patenting and re-branding of antiomers of existing drugs, take the price gouging by which a pill costs a hundred times more in the US than elsewhere, take the outright bribery of a congress that looks the other way, and then ask on whose terms our government will be handing out drug subsidies.

Now, universal healthcare might work if not for drugs; first, we should lay open the borders and let the market correct what's become a pattern of worldwide price gouging.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:20 AM on June 18, 2007


They said the test itself was enough to warrant the rider.

What else could such riders be applied to? Maybe TB? "We're sorry, but we don't want to pay to cure diseases so contagious that you might not be allowed to ride in an airplane."
posted by davy at 9:37 AM on June 18, 2007


Damn, the link does not work anymore. Anyone got a mirror?
posted by c13 at 9:38 AM on June 18, 2007


Mirror
posted by mattbucher at 9:41 AM on June 18, 2007


Thanks..
posted by c13 at 9:45 AM on June 18, 2007


That mirror is gone too.
posted by homunculus at 9:55 AM on June 18, 2007


Homunculus, I'm downloading from it as we speak.
posted by c13 at 9:59 AM on June 18, 2007


YouTube pulls links to Michael Moore health care documentary, 'Sicko.'
posted by ericb at 10:05 AM on June 18, 2007


YouTube pulls links to Michael Moore health care documentary, 'Sicko.'
posted by ericb at 10:05 AM on June 18, 2007


There's always Usenet.
posted by faceonmars at 10:39 AM on June 18, 2007


The US health system sucks (speaking from personal experience yes). But let me post a warning about single-buyer health systems as well: the Greek NHS is a (worse!) copy of the British original. What has happened here is that we have a national, pretty-close-to-free, non-functioning health system.

For one thing, single-buyer means single-employer as well for doctors. In a slow economy like ours that means that the government has tried to keep doctor salaries down, as much as possible. 25 yrs later doctors salaries are far too low (say as much as a programmer at the same age). Which means doctors are trying to make money on the side by getting under-the-table payments to move you up in the queue or get you better care within the NHS. Secondly, this has removed competition among doctors, which have predictably closed ranks: pay is strictly based on seniority and disciplinary action for malpractice is practically non-existent (less than 2-3 license removals per year).

IMHO, competition among health providers is a good thing: and keeping the patient as the customer (not the government or other single buyer) makes sense: that's what makes capitalism work. But the US needs to fix some things: emergency care should be free, period. Health insurance should be mandatory and there should be *no* group advantage which handicaps small business owners and freelancers (again, speaking from experience here). Health plans should be bought by customers, not corporations to begin with (what's the point of that, other than link you to an employer? we're not in the '50s any more). And punitive damages for doctors should be capped to a reasonable amount or eliminated. Losing your license to practice and/or jail time should be deterrent enough: in the end we're all paying for doctors' insurance premiums.
posted by costas at 10:47 AM on June 18, 2007


Costas, You say that "punitive damages for doctors should be capped to a reasonable amount or eliminated. Losing your license to practice and/or jail time should be deterrent enough"

But I submit that someone going to jail for malpractice is not enough, they need to know that if they make a mistake that Could have been avoided, they will pay dearly. And what happens to the care that will be needed for the person(s) that are harmed by the Docs? what happens to the loss of wages/home/lifestyle? What happens to all that?

And I would like to note that many many many Docs/hospitals spend a great deal of time/money covering UP their mistakes.

As I said before...unless you remove the money given to elected officials, the problem will not get fixed and most likely get worse.
posted by photodegas at 10:58 AM on June 18, 2007


Another working mirror, for the moment.
posted by waxpancake at 11:08 AM on June 18, 2007


So let me get this strait. People want to have access to the best possible, cutting edge healthcare, immediately, they want any disease on injury to be treated promptly, with zero chance of failure or mistake, and they want it to be cheap. And every trailer park redneck wants 10 million dollars to compensate for his "diminished lifestyle" and a loss of a minimum wage job in case anything goes wrong. Would they like fries with that?
posted by c13 at 11:13 AM on June 18, 2007


I'm curious — I haven't lived in the country since 1985: How are malpractice issues handled in Canada?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:14 AM on June 18, 2007


And punitive damages for doctors should be capped to a reasonable amount or eliminated.

Any such cap would have to be indexed to inflation in order to be meaningful five or ten years down the line.
posted by oaf at 11:18 AM on June 18, 2007


Well, I am not saying I have all the solutions: but if jail time works for murder, it should work for malpractice. I think doctors are being singled out: any number of professionals can injure or kill people through negligence or incompetence but they are not exposed to the same punitive damages / malpractice insurance feedback loop: airline pilots, bus drivers, air traffic controllers, civil engineers, cops, firemen, etc.
posted by costas at 11:20 AM on June 18, 2007


So let me get this strait. People want to have access to the best possible, cutting edge healthcare, immediately, they want any disease on injury to be treated promptly, with zero chance of failure or mistake, and they want it to be cheap. And every trailer park redneck wants 10 million dollars to compensate for his "diminished lifestyle" and a loss of a minimum wage job in case anything goes wrong. Would they like fries with that?

For the life of me, if I live to be a hundred, I will never understand this kind of attitude. It is so "classist" and full of disdain for others.

But if had to answer it, I'd say YES. Why don't we start with it ALL, and then work our way backwards to what we can really afford? Senators, congresscritters, and the rich seem to get what they want. The military/industrial complex gets what it wants. Multinational corporations get what they want. Why do we only run out of money and will when it comes to providing for the great unwashed?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:24 AM on June 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


c13 writes "So let me get this strait. People want to have access to the best possible, cutting edge healthcare, immediately, they want any disease on injury to be treated promptly, with zero chance of failure or mistake, and they want it to be cheap. And every trailer park redneck wants 10 million dollars to compensate for his 'diminished lifestyle' and a loss of a minimum wage job in case anything goes wrong. Would they like fries with that?"

Well it's about time someone from the insurance industry chimed in!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:42 AM on June 18, 2007


I do not know c13, but I feel confident in saying, "You, sir, do not get it."
posted by NationalKato at 11:56 AM on June 18, 2007


c13, if people had access to even mediocre healthcare all along, then the odds of having any disease or injury requiring advanced care would shrink dramatically, saving all of us money. That applies even to our current system (which no one can afford).
posted by hermitosis at 12:00 PM on June 18, 2007


I live in Toronto, deep in the heart of Soviet Canuckistan. Last week I had a routine physical administered by my GP, and it was discovered that my blood pressure was a little high. Given that there's a history of heart problems in my family, the doctor decided to send me up to the cardiac clinic at the walk-in clinic I go to. Up I go for a consultation with a cardiac specialist and an EGK (everything was fine). The entire process took less than an hour and cost me "nothing" (i.e. only whatever percentage of my taxes went to the maintenance of the health care system).

No health care system is perfect. But I'll take my chances with Canada's over the absolutely horrific stories I hear coming out of the U.S.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:27 PM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


papakwanz writes "but have other reservations about him as a spokesman for 'my side.' "

That's part of the problem, the polarized "side" mentality. From any side, this kind of approach to reality leaves facts out of the window, picking only the ones that please or help the position we prefer.

From what I have seen so far, some insurance companies are using their financial might to litigate some clients that are likely to generate very significant expenses. hoping that they will either

1. die before any big expense is needed
2. renounce , give up , in fear of enormous legal bills
3. something happens and the condition self-resolves or less expensive treatements resolve the situation

From a company point of view, that makes sense as profit maximization is one of the targets set by company owners.

Yet this maximization isn't obtained by a better administration , a technological advancement or a lucky combination of events , but it is obtained by playing a game of chances against the a suffering patient and by exploiting the fear ordinary users have of megacorporation, so infinitely rich they can buy their way out much like Paris Hilton (remember she is in a comfy prison and just spending a short time there).


kid ichorous writes "we should lay open the borders and let the market correct what's become a pattern of worldwide price gouging."

Opening borders doesn't cause reduction of prices , presence of active competitors does. Except that no one is foolish enough to seek competition with another company , when they can both try not to clash with each other : only the most irrational and greedy fight to obtain a market without considering the potential costs of such a battle.

Innovation and invention should, in occasions in which war is more expensive then cooperation, become the favoured levers to win the attention of the buyers and therefore simply "steal" the customer away from the previous salesman, by offering a better or less expensive product.There is an additional problem : the source of revenue of pharma et al is illness. There is no interest in finding a permanent, relatively cheap and affordable cure for relatively rare illness and there is even less interest in finding cures for common problems, such as a cold, because they are quite huge profit generators.
posted by elpapacito at 12:35 PM on June 18, 2007


Heh.. Quite a response! I in no way think that the current system is fair, functioning or even makes sense, as I've said on numerous occasions in other threads. What I was trying to point out is that the issue is a hell of a lot more complex than money grabbing doctors, corrupt politicians or crooked insurance companies. That healthcare and capitalism are not compatible and it will not work as long as all involved look at it as something to gain from. That includes both the provides AND consumers. I'm a medical student. I'm not here to make money. At the same time, I don't think highly of someone doing their damnest to find something, anything to sue me over and ruin all the work I've put into my career. ObGYN? No, thanks. I'd rather not get sued because you gave birth to a fucked up baby. Not my fault.

Andywolf, your comment would be insulting if it was not funny. If I'm a fucking hillbilly trash, I'm a Russian immigrant fucking hillbilly trash.
posted by c13 at 12:38 PM on June 18, 2007


I agree with Ron Paul on this one. I am all for the private sector taking care of medicine. The other alternatives have too many negatives.
posted by jeffreyharmon at 12:45 PM on June 18, 2007


The other alternatives have too many negatives.

More negatives than the current setup?
posted by oaf at 12:52 PM on June 18, 2007


egads!! fucking commie pinko hillbilly trash =O!!! mesa brains justa melted!!

i was just kiddin' around anyway.
posted by andywolf at 12:55 PM on June 18, 2007


JefferyHarmon, letting the market decide worked so well for the energy industry, what can go wrong with the health and welfare of my kids...
posted by photodegas at 12:58 PM on June 18, 2007


"Sounds like there's a market for generating "de-Moored" versions of these films."

This would explain why an enemy of a given message would opt not to shoot the messenger. Then you create a martyr. Better to chastise the messenger for whatever perceived weakness or idiosyncratic difference he has from the masses.

Call him a fatty. Then when he calls you a sicko, no one listens to him. Brilliant. The liberals pretty much did the same thing to Rush Limbaugh, but the conservatives still listened to him. Goodness knows why.

I still listen to Moore, but then, I'm a fatty too. =P
posted by ZachsMind at 1:09 PM on June 18, 2007


I am all for the private sector taking care of medicine.

It already does, at least in the US. It's been a catastrophic failure for the majority of the country.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:08 PM on June 18, 2007


And here in Massachusetts --

Countdown to Coverage
"More than 135,000 Massachusetts residents who were previously uninsured have gotten free or subsidized coverage under the state's landmark health insurance law. The initiative established Massachusetts as the first state to require every resident to have coverage. An estimated 250,000 to 350,000 people remain uninsured."
posted by ericb at 2:58 PM on June 18, 2007


There is no interest in finding a permanent, relatively cheap and affordable cure for relatively rare illness and there is even less interest in finding cures for common problems, such as a cold, because they are quite huge profit generators.

Do you really honestly believe cures for everything from the common cold to every variation of cancer already exists but the pharma companies are sitting on it? Please tell me you're being sarcastic. Believe me, if anyone had discovered a way to combat the entire family of common cold viruses with better efficacy and fewer side effects than rest and fluids, every pharma in the world would emptying their cash coffers to license and distribute it.

---
Yes, the US healthcare system is terribly inefficient, misguided, wasteful, and costly. I don't think a single honest person working in or near the US healthcare system, myself included, thinks otherwise. Simply seeing the published results of comparisons of private insurance vs Medicare leads me to believe that the benefits of universal healthcare significantly outweigh benefits of the private healthcare. I value life as much as anyone else but I think the societal costs of being able to provide extraordinary catastrophic care under the private system just isn't worth it.

That said, the idea that implementing universal healthcare will suddenly solve all of America's health and healthcare costs problems is naive. We've got a lot of health issues that run much deeper than who and how we pay for healthcare. It's no coincidence that obesity is the fastest-growing disease, heart disease/stroke/diabetes are the biggest health expenditures category, and Lipitor is the most-prescribed drug by a wide margin, all at the same time. I guarantee universal healthcare won't erase those 3 facts anytime soon. But I'd like to think it has a chance, something that private healthcare infrastructure and incentive systems never had or will ever have.

---
NYMag's recent panel of anonymous physicians was quite revealing of the facts that everyone working in American healthcare know but don't like to talk about:

What could be changed about the health-care system to better help patients?

Dr. Baby: Universal health care.

Dr. Heart1: But you’re talking from a public-health perspective. If you are an individual … if your dad is sick and he has access to insurance and money, do you want him to live in the country with universal health care or our kind of health care? Our kind of health care.

Dr. Virus: The only place I’d defend American care is for the catastrophically ill, where there are miraculous outcomes still.

Dr. Heart2: If you’re talking about separating Siamese twins, yes, I’d want to do it in the United States rather than anywhere else in the world. When money is not an issue, I would still contend that we have the worst, because we get overtested. We chase incidental diagnoses that might not affect the patient’s health.

Dr. Virus: With universal, you’d get the same kind of mediocre shittiness that you’d get in all other kinds of standardized approaches. But for millions of people, that would be a big upgrade.

posted by junesix at 3:27 PM on June 18, 2007


From jefferyharman's link:

Dr. Berry practices medicine as most doctors did 40 years ago, when patients paid cash for ordinary services and had inexpensive catastrophic insurance for serious injuries or illnesses. As a result, Dr. Berry and his patients decide for themselves what treatment is appropriate.

Freed from HMO and government bureaucracy, Dr. Berry can focus on medicine rather than billing. Operating on a cash basis lowers his overhead considerably, allowing him to charge much lower prices than other doctors. He often charges just $35 for routine maladies, which is not much more than one’s insurance co-pay in other offices.


Sounds like Dr Berry has it made. Low overhead, no paperwork, little in the way of accountability (hey poor peeps- if you don't like his services, you can always take your business to one of the countless other freemarket docs in your rural backwater) AND he gets to charge only slightly more than the average co-pay. Well played sir!

As for those patients who are running a little short this month, or who haven't managed to find some of that "inexpensive catastrophic insurance", well, sometimes the herd just needs a little thinning. Amirite?
posted by maryh at 3:30 PM on June 18, 2007


Opening borders doesn't cause reduction of prices

It does when you're dealing with price gouging. What's being done with drugs is the equivalent of using regional encoding to sell DVDs at different prices in different countries. They're preventing a resale market from forming around these drugs, and from closing the price differences they've imposed.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:30 PM on June 18, 2007


I'm watching it right now - Moore's trademark gee-whiz "oh, are things in different countries different?" shtick is prevalent as ever, but this exchange with an English pharmacist really rings true with me:

Moore: "So, where's the bread and milk? Can't I pick up some detergent up here?"
Pharmacist: (admonishing) "I didn't train for so that many years to sell laundry detergent."

I usually detest the whole "OMG America is weird" thing, but it's true, when I walked into a Duane Reade for the first time I couldn't help thinking "God, this is a supermarket".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:37 PM on June 18, 2007


From junesix's quotations from actual doctors --

Dr. Virus: With universal, you’d get the same kind of mediocre shittiness that you’d get in all other kinds of standardized approaches. But for millions of people, that would be a big upgrade.

Worth repeating. And in terms of politics, I'm really curious to see how this film plays out across the country. Limbaugh and Hannity et al. have indoctrinated their base to hate the guy as a fat commie faggot. When he was directly criticizing Bush, that was pretty easy to do. But these same people have or have had sick mothers or daughters or sisters, or have been sick themselves. And rich or poor, they've probably been fucked over by the health-care system.

Tipping point? Probably too much to ask. But for all of the film's flaws, Moore definitely picked the perfect target. Again, good for him. (But man, if he ever makes a film that doesn't prominently feature himself, it'd be even better IMO.)
posted by bardic at 3:41 PM on June 18, 2007


btw, here's a response from the anti-Moore blogger whom Moore have the 12K needed for his wife to maintain her health insurance.
posted by bardic at 3:43 PM on June 18, 2007


Actually, from the same site, this link is better.
posted by bardic at 3:44 PM on June 18, 2007


I have a friend who was fortunate enough to be married to a Canadian, who had a kid in NYC and was paying $1000/mo. in health insurance. One day, the 2 of them decided to pick up and move to Canada.

It's not just Toyota or GM anymore folks, health care in the US is leading to loss of jobs, a brain-drain and put a substantial tap on people's incomes. The cumulative ROI on a single-payer health plan would kick the shit out of any of these tax-cuts the Republican keep handing out – how many votes could you win in 2008 if you could allow people to save $12,000 a year in insurance costs? If you couldd save corporations MILLIONS in payouts to Kaiser, Aetna and BCBS?

Looks like a no-brainer and a vote-getter to me, while it would also put a hurt on campaign financing. Said electoral candidates have only to win or have the vision to stump on the issue.

Again, if our aging middle-class can manage to save $7,200-12,000 a year, that's an election winning issue right there. Billions are being wasted each year financing the HMO middlemen. Billions that could be used to shore us up as our war debt comes home to kick us in the ass.
posted by vhsiv at 3:50 PM on June 18, 2007


this movie (and thread) is casting serious doubts on my long-term plans. The best jobs in my field are in Silicon Valley and I figured I would probably end up there. I live in Canada. Now I'm not so sure I want to leave.

The concept that Americans are chained to their jobs because they don't want to lose their coverage - that one member of a family takes a job they hate and sticks with it to keep their family insured - notwithstanding all the other horror stories - I knew it was bad down there but I didn't realize how much of an impact health care has on your daily lives, even when you're healthy.
posted by PercussivePaul at 4:06 PM on June 18, 2007


I think this is a guerilla marketing plan. Moore is very open to sharing the movie if no profit is made from his work.

It gets people talking.

Yes we can DL it from torrent sites, burn them, watch them, etc.

But the masses still don't understand even what a torrent is. This is only going to make the movie MORE money and have MORE people talking about. It's all about the first few weeks anyway, and if there is REALLY good buzz about it..... it will flourish.
posted by PreteFunkEra at 4:22 PM on June 18, 2007


when I walked into a Duane Reade for the first time I couldn't help thinking "God, this is a supermarket"

Canada is like that as well, with supermarket items in the pharmacies and pharmacies in the supermarkets. ("Hey! You got pharmacy in my supermarket!" "You got supermarket in my pharmacy!") It's probably a North American thing.

Anyway, Toronto is looking better and better, despite the bouts of cold, the bouts of smog, and the bouts of smug (not isolated to southern Ontario).
posted by oaf at 4:32 PM on June 18, 2007


I think this is a guerilla marketing plan. Moore is very open to sharing the movie if no profit is made from his work.

I thought this as well. The Weinstein brothers are no slouches when it comes to marketing.
posted by bardic at 4:38 PM on June 18, 2007


After watching the film and seeing it with friends, two of which have doctorates in pharmacology, I am somewhat mixed. This is by far the best documentary Moore has made, but it fell into sentimentalism too often for my tastes and didn't explore how complex an issue it really is.

State sponsored health care and private health care both have distinct advantages and disadvantages, anyone who says that one is objectively better is not doing an honest analysis. The problem really lies at the most expensive end of the health care system. I believe that the most mundane and simple tasks that constitute a large portion of our health care would benefit greatly from state health care versus the profit seeking HMOs. The problem is the distribution tails on the insurance actuary charts. Even if the state subsided treatment, not everyone would be able to afford the $6,000 blood cancer treatments or a variety of treatments that deal with the very limited resources of both hospital availability, doctor's time or medicinal availability. Right now it appears that two types of people receive the high-end expensive treatment, those which benefit greatly according to studies and charts (would you pay for a $200,000 implant for a 60 year old overweight man with diabetes or a 20 year old fit male? such things are real and will be a problem in either system), or those who simply can afford the treatment. If we assume that wealth has a large component of luck, which it does, I would argue that a lottery or random assignment employed by the government, which picking between two identical profiles comes down to, is probably near the same level of fairness as being able to afford healthcare. Fairness really depends on which side of the line you are on.

My greatest fear, going to a socialized system, is that healthcare costs will overburden the government. Central planning is notoriously bad on predicting and maintaining costs. All things considered, I would see health care taking up an increasingly large part of our national budget while the returns increasingly diminish.

I do think our system needs an overhaul and I think at the very least we should look at a quasi-private industry or totally rewrite regulations. Perhaps even requiring health care entities to be non-profit. Or perhaps even better, create a government mediation program to appeal to. I remember, several years ago, a successful lawyer that told me that nearly all insurance cases that were like the type shown on the Moore documentary (that is rejected insurance for yeast infection and the like) universally win when they go to court. The insurance companies, obviously aware of this, simply construct an accurate model estimating the number of cases going to court, the costs and operate accordingly. This is absurd, if we had a better way to keep insurance companies honest, that involved cheap, efficient mediation from an unbiased third party, perhaps we could squeeze efficiency out of the system.

Overhauling a health care system with 300 million people is enormous task and would require wide spread public support. Even with this documentary I don't know if it will be possible anytime soon.
posted by geoff. at 4:45 PM on June 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


It should flourish. It looks like the best film he's ever made.

By the way, I'm sure all you mefites get tired of hearing ex-Americans like myself banging on about living in Europe or Canada, but it really is a fundamentally different way of life.

I feel safer here.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:48 PM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


My greatest fear, going to a socialized system, is that healthcare costs will overburden the government.

Single-payer is only very slightly socialized. The government could make up the difference partly from taxes, and partly from the premiums that individuals and employers are no longer paying.
posted by oaf at 5:02 PM on June 18, 2007


Malpractice is not all about greedy ambulance-chasers and money-grubbing scumbags ganging up on beleaguered M.D.s Anyone who thinks so (I'm looking at you, Comrade ck13) should read this article (warning: PDF) by Atul Gawande. (From the 14 Nov. 2006 New Yorker, if you want to seek out an alternate source.)

Two things I found interesting:

1) Most legitimate cases of malpractice aren't litigated or pursued in any way.

2) A doctor who's made a mistake likely feels the impulse to do one simple thing that seems to prevent being sued, yet lawyers/admins will strongly advise against doing this one simple thing, i.e., apologizing.

(Also, if you think Jonathan Edwards has gotten rich off the backs of fallible physicians, try reading up on Valerie Lakey.)

More or less on topic: I doubt the U.S. will get anything like universal healthcare until corporations get sick of footing the bill—and can't work out some sort of K-Street deal to shift all the costs onto workers.

In other words, we're screwed.
posted by vetiver at 5:50 PM on June 18, 2007


I doubt the U.S. will get anything like universal healthcare until corporations get sick of footing the bill

There are some conscientious conservatives out there (all three of them) who realize that this is exactly what's happening. GM decides they don't want to honor the health-care plans of their retirees? Fine, just let them go to downtown emergency rooms and let county and city governments foot the bill, who then pass it on to the state, who then pass it on to the Fed.

Thing is, with so many older Americans now, we're going to see them start dying in gutters. And I'm not talking about homeless or mentally challenged ones -- I'm talking about formerly middle-class folks who will bleed out and die in front of us all.

But god forbid we "socialize" health-care. That's what the terrorists want.

Good times.
posted by bardic at 6:18 PM on June 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Malpractice is not all about greedy ambulance-chasers and money-grubbing scumbags ganging up on beleaguered M.D.s

Well dude, I suppose you're right. Some MD's should get sued. Like your ophthalmologist. But let's leave that for a moment.
Are you seriously trying to suggest that american doctors are more incompetent than the ones in Britain, Canada, France or Germany? Is that why they get sued so much more often? Or is it that the poor, poor citizens of those other countries get maimed all the time by state-protected doctors?
posted by c13 at 7:13 PM on June 18, 2007


HONK HONK YOU WIN THE FALSE DICHOTOMY PRIZE. You can choose either:
1) a kick to the nuts and a urologist visit that isn't covered by your insurance; or
2) a kick to the nuts and two ibuprofen.*

*This offer not valid in 49 states. Sorry Tennessee!
posted by cog_nate at 7:42 PM on June 18, 2007


Wow, ck13, you got so much less from that article than I would've expected from a sentient, literate adult. You seem hep to the whole opthamology thing so I doubt your vision is at fault.... Perhaps you have some neurological abnormality that an MRI could pick up. (You could be Oliver Sachs' new best friend -- "The Man Who Mistook a Comment for an Attack"!) Or maybe you should see a proctologist about that stick up your ass.

As a last resort, RTFA before you start acting like a total out-of-network douchebag.
posted by vetiver at 7:46 PM on June 18, 2007


Um, ok then..
posted by c13 at 7:55 PM on June 18, 2007


Or is it that the poor, poor citizens of those other countries get maimed all the time by state-protected doctors?

Funny, you just named four countries where life-expectancy is longer than in the US.
posted by bardic at 8:04 PM on June 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


hey, just saw it; i'm trying to decide whether i liked it better than _once_ :P so is michael moore (a fan of ron paul?) leaking it or, more nefariously, the weinsteins!? i smell another oscar! i'm assuming he got another 8-11 min standing o at cannes :D

anyway, i hope more long-form docs (and anything else really) make it up on google video or wherever (that's more convenient than bittorrent :) youtube's fifteen minutes are fine for 'clips' but chunking it up kinda destroys the presentation, altho of course a nice theatre is still ideal... for me!

so some initial thots in no particular order:
  1. moore finds some great footage
  2. kinda wondering what half-truths, distortions and exploitive manipulation lie in wait to be revealed (that weren't evident), but hoping there aren't any (to any great degree)
  3. i was never a big pirate(R!) -- i (generally :) can afford and don't mind paying for stuff -- but the juxtaposition of watching a bootleg on google video about the manifestly crappy and unaffordable (in multiple senses) US healthcare system was delicious
  4. the guantanamo sequence was pretty disingenuous
  5. the reaction to this is going to be amazing! which is why i immediately checked on metafilter :P
i guess that's all i can think of for now... oh and btw, i like ron wyden's plan :P
Mr Wyden’s bill is 166 pages against Hillary Clinton’s 1,364. Instead of trying to flatten the opposition as the Clintons did, Mr Wyden is courting Republicans. He recently got five of the most conservative men in the Senate to co-sign a letter to Mr Bush endorsing the principles of universal coverage and cost containment.

Under Mr Wyden’s plan, American employers would no longer provide health coverage, as they have since the second world war. Instead, they would convert the current cost of coverage into additional salary. Individuals would use this money to meet the requirement that they be insured. Buying coverage directly would encourage consumers to use healthcare more efficiently. Getting rid of the employer tax deduction, which costs $200bn a year, would free funds to cover those who are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid but not wealthy enough to afford insurance. The Lewin Group, an independent consulting firm, recently estimated that Mr Wyden’s plan would reduce national spending on healthcare by $1,500bn over the next 10 years and save the government money through greater administrative efficiency and competition.
cheers!
posted by kliuless at 9:31 PM on June 18, 2007


Instead, they would convert the current cost of coverage into additional salary.

Or keep some or all of it.
posted by oaf at 9:46 PM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


well, according to wyden:
All employers will share the responsibility of financing health care with individuals and the government. During a two-year transition phase, employers who have been providing health insurance will “cash out” the value of that health insurance and provide that amount in wages to their employees. After the two years, all employers will make a shared responsibility payment, meaning they pay up to 25 percent of the average premium for essential care in the area. Employers will no longer have the burden of finding affordable health care for their employees.
huh, he's also proposing a "simpler, flatter, fairer" tax reform plan btw -- check out the sample 1040 :P

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 10:16 PM on June 18, 2007


And we're shorter too...

A new study published in the current issue of the Social Science Quarterly by researchers from Princeton University in the US and the University of Munich in Germany indicates that the difference may have to do more with politics than biology. Specifically, the study, which involved the statistical analysis of demographic and health data collected between 1959 and 2002, concludes that the spotty US health-care system and weak welfare net could explain why Americans have stopped growing.

"We surmise that the health systems and high degree of social security in Europe provide better conditions for growth than the American health system, despite the fact that the system costs twice as much," said study co-author John Komlos from the University of Munich in a statement.

posted by Otis at 6:49 AM on June 19, 2007


Under Mr Wyden’s plan, American employers would no longer provide health coverage, as they have since the second world war. Instead, they would convert the current cost of coverage into additional salary. Individuals would use this money to meet the requirement that they be insured.

You're... kidding, right? This is some sort of elaborate legislative sarcasm that's flying right over my head? Because otherwise, I'd have to question the omission of discussion of several key factors in said plan (and in the regressive, harshly-punitive-to-the-bottom-quintile flat tax program, but I'll save that for another day). Like the fact that no company, ever, in any conceivable alternate reality would just hand over the same amount of cash that they used to spend on (tax-deductible!) benefits, without elaborate and expensive enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance. And that even if they decided to play along, because of largess or fiat, the $x that used to pay for your health coverage under a company-wide policy is probably several orders of magnitude less than the $y cost of individual coverage. 25-year-old men in prime health can expect to pay as much as $10K/year for anything better than catastrophic coverage with a huge deductible; what exactly does Mr. Wyden think the 65-year-old diabetic is going to do to make up the extra $20K a year in insurance costs?

Or, channeling the wisest words I've seen in the thread: God forbid we "socialize" health-care. That's what the terrorists want.
posted by Mayor West at 7:08 AM on June 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


'Sicko' leaks have studios crying malpractice
posted by The Deej at 4:03 PM on June 19, 2007


From the above linked story:

But for Moore, even piracy has its limits, especially when it comes to the timing, quality and source of the bootleg.

"Every filmmaker intends for his film to be seen on the big screen," Moore said. "This wasn't a guy taking a video camera into a theater. This was an inside job, a copy made from a high-quality master and could potentially impact the opening weekend boxoffice. Who do you think benefits from that?"

When asked about accusations that he may have leaked the film himself for publicity purposes, Moore scoffed at the notion:

"Oh no. The (Weinstein) brothers are devastated."
posted by The Deej at 4:04 PM on June 19, 2007


And now it will be released ahead of schedule.
posted by The Deej at 4:10 PM on June 19, 2007


I urge everyone to shit on John Edwards.

ZOMG TRYAL LAYWER!!!!

Moron.

OK, fine. Breaking even, and then some. But if everyone had price controls, research would stagnate unless run by the government (which you would end up paying for anyway).

Actually half of the largest pharmaceutical companies are not even based in the US So why should GlaxoSmithKline, a British company make most of it's money in the US? If we put in price controls, then other countries would have to pay their fair share for drug research.

i guess that's all i can think of for now... oh and btw, i like ron wyden's plan :P

Kliuless indeed. If a health insurance provider denies a claim for an employee of a company, the company can move to another provider, costing the company even more money. On the other hand, if they do it too an individual, its not big deal (for them) Wyden's plan is a defacto tax going right to corporations. Any libertarian who supported that would either be a hypocrite or an idiot.
posted by delmoi at 4:24 PM on June 19, 2007


well since i'm being called names (eponymously :) i'm all het up for internet debate! maybe you didn't read the plan (all 166 pp. of its double-spaced, large-margined glory) but it's not just ending employer-based healthcare and being left to the wolves whims of private health insurers:
Under The Healthy Americans Act individuals will choose from a variety of plans offered in their state providing coverage similar to what is currently available to Members of Congress. State-based Health Help Agencies (HHAs) will guide individuals through the enrollment process. HHAs will provide unbiased information about the state’s competing private health plans that will in turn empower individuals—rather than their employers—to choose the best private plans for them and their families. HHAs also will connect individuals and families with sliding scale premium reduction to ensure everyone can afford care. Most individuals and families will qualify for health care tax deductions.

Also under the Healthy Americans Act, subscribers will not be charged co-pays for preventive services or chronic disease management. Insurers will be able to offer discounts and other incentives based on participation in wellness programs such as nutrition counseling, tobacco cessation and exercise. Primary care physicians will be reimbursed for investing time in chronic disease management and prevention. And with Health Help Agencies publishing consumer-oriented information on every plan’s success in prevention and disease management, insurance companies will ultimately be competing to keep Americans healthy.

For those who already have existing health problems, occupation, gender, genetic information and age will no longer be allowed to impact your eligibility or the price you pay for insurance.
no, it prolly is not ideal -- it is not a NHS -- but i think if you're starting from where we are (unfortunately) it would take us in the right direction. so what i think it has going for it, namely, is its feasibility. it's practical.

i mean ppl upthread are saying we'll never get to 'socialised médecins' precisely because of the HMO/big pharma lobbies; they'll even be fighting this tooth-and-nail if it ever gets out of committee (i'm guessing it hasn't yet). that's the reality as i see it. but the reality for a lot of corporate america is changing as well:
...the days of health-care incrementalism are over. Nor are these Democrats alone in embracing the once-toxic political cause of universal care: The best-known state models have been championed by Republican governors, including Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who is now running for president. This shift reflects rising and inflation-topping out-of-pocket costs for health care and insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles.

Also, the number of uninsured has spiked to about 45 million, from 37 million when Mr. Clinton was president. Business leaders increasingly are seeking a government-imposed solution, saying employee health costs put them at a disadvantage with foreign competitors. Those forces, in turn, have combined to embolden politicians in both parties to once again propose universal health care that inevitably would mean a big role for government -- and possibly upend the powerful insurance, medical and pharmaceutical industries...
iow, corps are also (finally) being screwed over by the present health care system in the US, only they can afford lobbyists of their own :P wyden's plan is the middle ground as i see it -- and i commend him for exploring it -- like i'd rather have that in some form than continue on w/ the status quo...

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 9:12 PM on June 19, 2007


The bit about him paying the Moorewatch guy is rather interesting, as is the Moorewatch guy's current response on his website.
posted by WCityMike at 7:57 AM on June 20, 2007


'Sicko' to get early release in NYC after this week's Internet leak.
posted by ericb at 11:14 AM on June 20, 2007


posted by delmoi Did you watch the movie? The patients were treated in Havana, not in Cuba.

Havana is in Cuba.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:16 AM on June 20, 2007


JuneSix: "Do you really honestly believe cures for everything from the common cold to every variation of cancer already exists but the pharma companies are sitting on it? Please tell me you're being sarcastic."

Actually, as I understand the conspiracy theory, it works more like this.

Corporate interests need to make money. Preferably more money than the previous quarter. When people need medicine or other medical resources for ongoing illnesses, that means consistent income for medical oriented corporations.

If suddenly diabetes were cured tomorrow by a single pill, then the insulin industry would dry up within a year. So it's not that conspiracy theorists believe there's already a cure. They just don't think corporate funds are being invested in cures that might cause current soluable industries to stop being economically vibrant. In fact the most extreme suspect that there are forces purposefully slowing down progress of research in all kinds of diseases (cough stem cell research cough) in response to corporate interests not ready for dramatic changes in current profitability.

Of course, no one would ever do this when there's lives on the line, would they? Why, that's unthinkable! Then again..

It's not entirely kooky. Would you invest more in possible solutions that don't guarantee profit, when you already have a working solution that is profitable? Would you gamble on uncertain research when you already have a viable sure thing?

It's not that there's an evil conspiracy out there. The truth is more disturbing: preservation of humanity versus an instinctive self-preservation pitting one's own interests against other humans. The individual wants to survive even at the cost of the human race. It'd be funny if it weren't so morbid. Heck. I think it's funny anyway, but then, I'm a sicko.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:26 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Y'know it's interesting when you look at Michael Moore's career. I been following him since Roger & Me. I lived in Michigan until 1980, and I knew from personal hand the meaning behind the bumper stickers saying, "last one outta Michigan please turn out the light." My family escaped. Michael Moore and many of his friends and family members didn't. Some people believed in turning Michigan around. Others had no choice because they couldn't just pick up and leave.

Almost two centuries later, GM is struggling and while it appeared to be invulnerable when Moore attacked them back then, today they can barely stay on their feet. A couple years ago they turned what had been their employee discount into a marketing scheme. That's about as desperate as a company can get. Not many more tricks up that particular sleeve.

The Big One was largely about unemployment in the country and how unstable the job environment was for Americans. Today, while unemployment hasn't changed dramatically, job security is more uncertain, and the cost of living keeps going up while average salaries don't. Congress argues over increasing the minimum wage now and then, but it's still at least a decade behind cost of living minimums, with no relief in sight for J. Q. Public, blue collar worker. When the movie came out, it was critically acclaimed and some people ooh'd and aah'd at it, but most people who could do something about dismissed The Big One as being made by The Big Fatty.

Bowling For Columbine was a caution light about violence in our country. Earlier this year we had yet another shooting, this time in Virginia. People dissed Moore. Told him he was full of shit. How dare he make Living Treasure Charlton Heston look like such a fool? It was a low blow. A pot shot at an old man. How dare he? and many turned away from Michael Moore, the big fatty.

Fahrenheit 9/11 tried to warn Americans about the Bush Administration and that there really were no weapons of mass destruction where Bush said there would be, and brave men and women were going over there to die for oil and corporate interests - not for protecting the American Dream. He got a lot of flack for that one too.

They keep shooting at the messenger, so they can drown out his message.

Maybe this time they'll listen. OR maybe we'll all have to die before we get a clue that maybe universal health care that supercedes The Seven Deadlies (particularly Avarice) isn't such a bad idea.

What the naysayers will probably do though is call Michael Moore a Socialist and then paint swastikas on his head, and when we yaysayers try to explain why that's historically innaccurate, they'll just call us all big fatties.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:44 PM on June 20, 2007


Moore picked an important issue but his overly sarcastic and alarmist delivery makes it hard for people to rally around. There's nothing constructive at the end and because of that, you just feel miserable about the state of affairs rather than empowered to do something about it.

This is a subject that I would have liked to see Al Gore tackle. Something as well-crafted as An Inconvenient Truth would have inspired action from individuals to politicians and people of influence. Do you see the difference? With An Inconvenient Truth, Gore informs you that the situation is bad but it's possible to turn it around if we act soon. With Sicko, Moore shows you how bad it is, shows you how great it is everywhere else, lets everyone else in the world also weigh in how bad they think we have it, and then just stops right there. The credits roll and you feel like shit.

He's going to have the whole country watching him after this movie premieres. If he wants change, this is his opportunity. I hope he'll ally with someone, anyone. But I have a feeling he may use the spotlight to remind us how bad our country sucks.
posted by junesix at 10:37 PM on June 20, 2007


Oh, I don't know. I still remember the scene in Fahrenheit 9/11 with Dubya sitting, paralyzed, in the front of that class room for minutes, waiting for his handlers to tell him what to do next. But he was preaching to the choir with me anyway.

Moore is a good propagandist. He presents what he wants you to see. He glosses over that which he doesn't.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:11 AM on June 21, 2007


junesix - have to disagree. Yes, he's a bit more subtle than Gore when it comes to the "We can turn it around" part, but the whole ending, and the whole part about how French people make their government fear them (as opposed to vice versa) were clearly directed at making Americans take action.

It's definitely a tough row to hoe, however. Health care is a multi-billion dollar industry in this country, and the've bought out the whole government. It's definitely not going to change over night.
posted by fungible at 6:39 PM on June 21, 2007


Small percentage of invited lobbyists show up for Moore ‘SiCKO’ screening
"About a dozen healthcare lobbyists answered filmmaker Michael Moore’s challenge and turned out for an advanced screening yesterday of his critical take on the American healthcare system.

Moore ran newspaper advertisements this week, including one that appeared in The Hill, listing the names of about 900 lobbyists registered for healthcare clients and invited anyone on the list to a free showing of his film, 'SiCKO.'

...Of the hundreds of invited lobbyists who declined to attend, Moore said, 'They’re probably busy doing what they do, which is make life miserable for the rest of us.'"
posted by ericb at 8:03 PM on June 21, 2007


Terrific movie. In case anybody's interested, here's my review of Sicko.
posted by muckster at 3:20 PM on June 22, 2007


JuneSix: "Do you see the difference? With An Inconvenient Truth, Gore informs you that the situation is bad but it's possible to turn it around if we act soon. With Sicko, Moore shows you how bad it is, shows you how great it is everywhere else, lets everyone else in the world also weigh in how bad they think we have it, and then just stops right there."

No. I don't see the difference you're describing. Both films offer alternatives. It's just that Moore's answer is not palatable because it means we Americans have to admit that with regards to health care, almost every other civilized country is doing it better than we are.

This does wonders for our ego. Admittedly, Moore's answer regarding health care is similar to Gore's (and many other people's) discussions about the Kyoto agreement some years before: America's not doing what the rest of the world is doing and everyone's suffering for it, because we're too proud.

Moore's answer is for us to get the heck outta the stone age and join the rest of the world in a medical plan that doesn't cater only to the filthy rich. His solution is to embrace a concept that makes all human beings equally capable of achieving a respectable quality of life.

The difference I see is that Moore's solution is admittedly more reasonable than what Gore offers in his film regarding global warming, because we CAN do what Moore suggests, but (some) influential rich Americans are too greedy and proud to admit it.

What Gore suggests is, in my opinion, too little too late.

Ultimately it's all academic. We'll eventually have ideal health care in North America, just in time for the polar ice caps to melt. Health care reform will be irrelevant after we are all dead.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:02 PM on June 24, 2007


Will there or will there not be universal health care in the US within the next 10 years?

Next 10 years? No. I'm not going to see it in my lifetime, and I'm in my early thirties. I'm fairly sure it'll happen in the U.S., but if I had to make a guess, I'd say late 21st century. I think, basically, that America trends "liberal" as it ages, i.e., ideas that would be radically socially and/or financially liberal become part of the accepted power structure many decades later.

But the neoconservative ethos is too much in control right now, and the Democrats ... I'm just so utterly disgusted with "my party" nowadays. They've really fucked the pooch in Congress lately. So in my humble opinion, we're going to see a Republican who is similarly neoconservative to Bush roll into office in 2008 and entrench that mindset and power structure more firmly into place.

Any industry that's managed to secure billions in its coiffers is gonna be tough to eliminate through pure social change, and our government's really transitioning into a much more corrupt lobbyistocracy than it's ever been before. As long as government officials are so easily bought off (i.e., the bit in Sicko about Hillary suddenly shutting up about universal health care in her Senatorial period), and as long as that buying-off yields nothing more than a "baaaaaaa?" from the American populace, that's going to be the order of the day: money will rule. Maybe someday it'll be different — but not in my life, I think.
posted by WCityMike at 9:15 AM on June 25, 2007


Bush to Uninsured Kids: Drop Dead
posted by homunculus at 5:46 PM on June 29, 2007


"In all my thirty years on this earth, I have never ever seen any movie have this kind of unifying effect on people. It was like I was standing there, at the birth of a new political movement. Even after 9/11, there was never a reaction like this, at least not in Texas. If Sicko truly has this sort of power, then Michael Moore has done something beyond amazing. If it can change people, affect people like this in the conservative hotbed of Texas, then Sicko isn’t just a great movie, seeing it may be one of the most important things you do all year." * [via]
posted by ericb at 8:22 AM on July 5, 2007


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