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Sicko is a movie written and directed by Michael Moore, famed American film maker. The movie is a documentary that compares the American health care plan with that of the rest of the world. While the American health care system is for profit, other countries such as Canada, France, the UK and Cuba use the universal nonprofit system. The aim of this movie is to inform the Americans about the failures of their profit heath care system and what they can borrow from the rest of the world (LASZEWSKI, 2007).
The movie begins with the information that fifty million Americans are uninsured and those insured have had a problem with fraud by insurance companies, where they thought they had saved enough to ensure good healthcare and ended up realizing they had nothing. The film then takes us through the history of the American health care system with a 1960’s record held by the American Medical Association where President Ronald Reagan warns that universal health care could lead to socialism. This is disputed by Michael Moore who points out that; schools, the fire department and libraries that are owned socially have not turned The United States of America to a communist state. The movie digs deeper into the history of the Health Maintenance Organizations Act of 1965 and its expansion. It tries to highlight the highly criticized efforts of Hillary Clinton to reform the health care system when her husband Bill Clinton was elected as president of the United States of America (about.com, 2011) .
Michael Moore visits the United Kingdom where he interviews patients and is told that no out of the pocket payments are ever made. The United Kingdom has a nonprofit universal healthcare system which they call the National Health Service .Drugs in most United Kingdom pharmacies are cheap and free for under sixteen year olds and those older than sixty years. Most pharmacies have government cashiers who reimburse ailing people of travelling expenses when they visit. Among those interviewed by Moore are a general practitioner and an American woman residing in the United Kingdom (New York Times: movies, 2007).
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Next scene is in France where Moore is informed that most services are offered by the government for free. This includes university education. France has a system they call the ‘SOS Medecins’ where physicians do house calls twenty four hours a day. Neonatal care is also provided for new mothers. This includes cleaning and laundry. An American woman in France even confesses to a feeling of guilt for the good health care she is receiving there while her parents back in the United States have worked all their lives for an inferior system back in the United States.
The film takes us back to the United States where we are informed that some rescue workers who volunteered during the September Eleventh Attacks and developed ailments such as respiratory system complications were struggling to pay for their health care. Moore says that even detainees in the Guantanamo bay detainment camp received better treatment for free. The September eleventh attacks rescuers had been denied funds to treat their ailments by the United States government. Moore decides to seek this free medical treatment and later heads to Havana where the rescuers purchase drugs at low quality prices and receive treatment that is low cost (IMDB, 2007).
The movie Sicko clearly shows that a public health problem exists in the United States of America. Insurance companies and privately owned healthcare systems are swindling people of their money and do not return its value. While the United States of America has the best physicians and most technologically sophisticated equipment, the cost of treatment using these two factors impedes access to healthcare. Only the rich can afford to be treated in such expensive hospitals. Since most of the healthcare providers work for profit, they do not have time and patience to attend to their patients. Their aim is to work through as many patients as they can in a day to maximize their profits. Hence in spite of the quality of healthcare patients do not receive the best treatment that there is. They also seek to cut costs that will come about as a result of patients being well attended to. This results in poor diagnosis or misguided diagnosis ( Contactmusic.com Ltd, 2011).
Patients do not get to forge a relationship with their doctor which is usually vital for their healing. This further raises the issue of patient safety. Ninety eight thousand Americans die each year because their doctor did not take the time to ensure their safety that resulted in medical errors. The same applies to pharmacies that are always under pressure to provide more drugs to beat the market competition hence end up making pharmaceutical mistakes.
There lacks a system that runs preventive services to reduce the number of people having to go through to a doctor. Lifestyle diseases are the most rampant in the United States of America. Obesity, heart disease, cancer and arthritis are just a few among the many lifestyle diseases causing a long queue to the doctor’s office. If a system was put in place to educate and encourage Americans to live healthy lives then we would not have to spend so much on treatment of preventable ailments. Laws have however been put in place to ensure that the insured receive preventive measures from diseases at no extra costs.
There are several factors that contribute to public health problems as seen in the movie. The major one is financial inability. For many Americans healthcare is becoming way too expensive to afford. Some people have had to make severe cuts to their standard of living because they were not covered. A scenario is shown where a man had to choose to save one of two fingers severed in an accident is highlighted creating classic case of a modern Sophie’s choice (livelonger).The expensive nature is brought about by privatisation of public health care in the name of capitalism and free market.The concept of free market is twisted as people stay on their current jobs for fear of losing their insurance if they walk away;this does not in any way carry the description of free market.To add on the already heavy burden of finances,insurance companies come in to ensure that one is covered.
Throughout the whole documentary,one theme played out glaringly:the role of politics in contributing to public health problems.It all starts with the propaganda set out in the 1950’s that universal health care is pro-communist (HubPages Inc, 2010).Then a record distributed by by The American Medical Association narrates president Ronald Reagan warning Americans that universal health care could lead to lost freedoms and an era of socialism.Enter the Hillary Clinton controversy in trying to change the previous health care system and facing severe criticism from her husband’s detractors who claimed she was trying to make the Americans go the socialised way,something that is not favoured at all in the United states of America.We are taken back in time to the history of The Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973 to a converastion held between president Nixon and John Ehrlichman where president Nixon agrees to the for profit health system regarding it to be “very good” and “not so bad.’’
In all these instances the heavy hand of politics is felt in trying to make people deviate from the universal health care system.Some politicians are bribed by big pharmaceutical firms in order to push through the provisions of The Health Maintenance Organisation Act of 1975.This would ensure that these drug giants would still remain in business.International ploitics also comes into play when Michael Moore takes the rescuers in the September Eleventh catastrophe to Havana,Cuba for treatment and drugs at very low costs.A woman is reduced to tears when she purchases an inhaler for five cents,for which she requires twenty dollars in the United States of America to acquire (livelonger).When leaving a Cuban brigade salutes Michael and his entourage,changing the perspectives of many Americans on Cuba as anti American socialists (Squidoo, LLC, 2011).
There are also envirronmental determinants that reflect on the public health care a country gives its citizens.The environment under which the medical practitioners work will also create a reason for the state of public health care.Despite being the most advanced country in terms of quality personel and high quality technological inventions,America’s medical personnel works in an environment that does not give them time to diagnose and care for patients in the way rhey are supposed to.They are in constant hurry to meet figures set by pharmaceutical or insurance companioes that they rarely relax to think about their job.
Contrastingly,French,cuban and and Canadian medical practitioners have no figures to chase,they work and get salaried at the end of the month without having to be asked how many patients have been attending to in that month.The French are even more surprising
With their doctors that are on call for twenty four hours a day. This has ensured that the French people’s health is taken care of in spite of the amount of money one has. If doctors would have a little to do at a time then maybe the ninety eight thousand dying as a result of medical misdiagnosis would reduce to a number that would make it look more like a mistake than a murder spree.
There are several measures that can be taken to improve the poor state of health care in the United States of America. Accountability should be enhanced. Many people do not even know that health care is rationed; this is because the insurance firms and other players in the health care system are not publicly accountable. This results in corruption and refusal of insurance companies to cover other costs that result when a person is sick. This was seen in the movie Sicko where a case of a lady with a yeast infection is highlighted. The Insurance Company denied her treatment as she had not informed the doctor of a yeast infection that had begun a year earlier.
A system of socialized health insurance such as the one in Canada should be advocated for. Many people do not understand the difference between socialized medicine and socialized health insurance. In socialized health insurance the government pays a person’s insurance premiums to their private insurance company. That way everyone will be covered and have equal access to medical care. The doctors and other practitioners in the medical field will still be able to be paid by the insurance companies or pharmaceutical firms that have hired them.
The notion of socialized medicine has been used to misguide people on the concept of socialized insurance. Socialized medicine is whereby the government is in control of the health care system and pays the doctors. Fears of the fact that the socialized health insurance system will cause government to dictate how people should be treated should be dispelled as the relationship between the doctor and the client is purely confidential (about.com, 2011).
The reforms advocated by president Barrack Obama under the Patient protection and Affordable care Act 2010 will go a long way to change the way the American health care system works. For instance the new law will have children twenty six and below will be covered under their parents’ insurance plan. Regarding insurance companies, citizens will be allowed to appeal when their insurance cover fails; a process is underway to ensure this happens. Under the same reforms businesses with fifty or more employees will be required to have them insured else face a fine of two thousand to three thousand dollars per employee.
This will go a long way in cutting down the fifty million figures that represents uninsured Americans. The system put forward by president Barrack Obama holds insurers down to pay patients’ costs for pre existing conditions and no higher health insurance charges will be levied with regard to health status or gender (LASZEWSKI, 2007). Some insurers are already offering clients free wellness visits for one year. Seniors enrolled under some insurers will receive substantial discounts on some brands of drugs when they do purchases. This is a clear sign that change is already underway. More is expected as the Patient Protection and Affordable care Act 2010 will be implemented over a period of five years.
The reforms introduced under the healthcare law will go a long way in ensuring that universal healthcare is achieved in the United States of America. Insurance companies are finally regulated by the government. The wealthy will pay more in order for a level paying ground to be achieved. This may affect the salaries of the medical practitioners but the margin is going to be small compared to the amount of money Americans are forced to pay out of their pockets. It is now safe to say that the previously hostile health care system is shifting to a more acceptable social service. Finally the face of the American health care system is changing to that of a more compassionate one (Squidoo, LLC, 2011).
The movie Sicko highlights the problems citizens of the United States in achieving health care face on a daily basis. It tells the reality unflinchingly in sync with its punch line ’This might hurt a little’. The documentary brings us to the face of bitter reality rarely addressed in public. It shows how companies defraud unsuspecting citizens in the name of insurance. It also brings to the fore the role of dirty politics in the suffering of the American health system. The comparison with the health care systems of other countries such as France, Canada the United Kingdom and Cuba helps to advance the practical suggestions the United States can use to improve what they already have in store. The movie indirectly advices that socializing a service does not necessarily mean that a state is going to become a socialist society. The movie Sicko is a perfect reality check for the United States and its citizens. It is a critic from its own people (Common Sense Media Inc, 2011).
The best thing about this movie however is the fact that it gives hope that Americans can do better with a little change here and there. Before it ends however the movie gives the audience a light touch of humor where Michael Moore lends a helping hand to his biggest critic Kenefick who was about to close down his blog as he needed $12,000 to cover the medical expenses of his ailing wife. When Kenefick refuses the offer, Michael Moore is forced to send the donation anonymously so that Kenefick’s ability to express his opinion would not be trampled upon by the United State’s health system. This is generally a good movie worth watching for one to really feel what it is like to be American (HubPages Inc, 2010).