Sicko is more “insurance documentary” than movie. Narrated by Michael Moore – a well-known (and controversial) producer, director, and writer – Sicko chronicles the medical insurance system of the United States. I know what you are thinking – “Oh great. A documentary about insurance. What could be more interesting? (insert sarcasm)”… Just keep reading.
Why is Sicko Interesting?
Although Sicko wasn’t a Hollywood blockbuster, in retrospect the movie certainly played an important role in the development of Obamacare. Sicko took the dismal facts about the medical insurance system in the United States and threw them right in our face. Moore interviewed Americans who had fallen victim to the “bottom line” of the insurance companies – people who were denied the medical care they desperately needed because, quite simply, their insurer didn’t want to spend the money.
The stories seem too awful to be true. First there was a man who had the tips of two fingers cut off and could only afford to have one reattached, because his insurer wouldn’t cover both. Then there was a woman who was denied treatment for her life-threatening illness, because it “wasn’t medically necessary.” She DIES shortly thereafter… The terrible accounts go on and on… So why have Americans tolerated this treatment for so long? The answer – most of them didn’t know any better.
And this is where Sicko made an impact. Michael Moore didn’t just interview those who were denied necessary life-saving treatments, he also traveled to Canada and the UK and interviewed their citizens. Finally, Americans who never had the luxury to travel were able to see the medical care in other countries. And it was shocking.
Moore showed us that the Canadians and the British don’t need to worry if they will receive the medical care they need, and they never worry about the cost. Every citizen, rich or poor, has equal access to the doctors and treatments they require.
How Did This Happen?
You might be asking yourself – how did the American system become so radically different than all the other wealthy countries of the Western world? The short answer – the private insurance system of the United States is a direct manifestation of the American love and dedication to capitalism and free markets – if any country was going to let health and medical care be dominated by the free markets, it was going to be the United States. And why not? Our dedication to capitalism has made us the richest and most successful country in the world. That kind of success is very difficult to argue with.
But what Americans didn’t anticipate was that our private, capitalist medical insurance system – run by those who were faced with the decision between putting more money in their own pockets or handing that money to strangers for their medical care – would give rise to such inhumane horror stories as those Michael Moore streamed into our living rooms…
So What Should We Do About It?
As a nation, we were faced with deciding if this kind of behavior is acceptable, and how it should be dealt with. Do we want more rules from the government, so the unfortunate are able to receive better medical care, or do we prefer a system based on “survival of the fittest”? Many would argue that all human beings should have an innate human right to adequate medical treatment, and so the government should intervene. Many others would rightly point out that throughout history, granting more power to the government can lead to other devastating and inhumane results, and caution is advised.
While the debate between these ideologies will probably continue for decades, if not centuries, the larger point to remember is that which was made by the founding fathers of the United States – if a nation is going to reflect the will of her people, those people need to have an adequate voice (democracy). For now, the voters of our nation have asked for changes in the American medical insurance system, and the government has responded with what is now known as Obamacare. Only time will reveal what we, as Americans, would like our ideal medical insurance system to look like – so long as we are being properly and adequately represented by our elected government.