Michael Moore Takes Aim at America’s Healthcare System in Eye-Opening Expose’
Rated PG-13 for brief strong profanity.
Running time: 113 minutes
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Film Review by Kam Williams
Excellent (4 stars)
Michael Moore has made a career of exposing hypocrisy in the ranks of corporate and political bureaucracies. His first film, Roger and Me (1989), delineated the economic blight visited upon Flint, Michigan in the wake of General Motors’ business decision to close down its factories in his hometown and to outsource those jobs to Mexico.
The controversial gadfly’s next target was the gun lobby in Bowling for Columbine (2002), a picture for which he won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Next, with Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), he questioned whether President Bush might have had a hidden agenda in declaring war on Iraq.
Now, he takes aim at America’s healthcare system by contrasting the horror stories of patients mistreated by insurance companies domestically with the relatively-utopian benefits of socialized medicine as enjoyed by citizens of such countries as Canada, France, England and Cuba. Only closed-minded arch-conservatives are likely to reject the case Moore makes for universal healthcare out of hand, for Sicko is undoubtedly the iconoclastic filmmaker’s least divisive documentary to date.
Sicko Photos: Michael Moore, Michael Moore. ’ Weinstein Company
Wisely, he has opted to rely less on his trademark self-aggrandizing and showboating in favor of simply giving his victimized interviewees the limelight, and every one has a very telling and compelling nightmare to relate. This couple goes bankrupt and moves in with their daughter due to medical bills. That widow tearfully recounts how her late husband had dies of kidney cancer after being denied coverage for a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant, despite the fact that he had a willing donor in a brother who was an exact match.
A father talks about how his insurance company approved cochlear implant surgery in only one of his totally deaf daughter’s ears. A guy who accidentally sawed off two fingers recalls having to choose which one he wanted reattached. And a woman knocked unconscious in a car accident is forced to pay her ambulance bill because the ride had not been pre-approved by her HMO. And so forth.
It doesn't take long to figure out that the tail is currently wagging the dog, and that the powerful insurance industry is dictating to doctors how to conduct their practices. Service has become secondary to making money and more than one physician guiltily confesses on camera to having relied on the flimsiest of excuses to turn away patients, to refuse reimbursement for a valid claim or to drop a seriously ill patient altogether.
Moore shows how frustrated Americans have begun looking elsewhere for affordable healthcare, and how foreigners are content with socialized medicine. Towards the end, he finally has a little fun when he leads a flotilla of some of the fed-up folks we’ve just watched to Cuba for free treatment of maladies not covered by their insurance in the States.
Making it abundantly clear that the U.S. is a very dangerous place to be any combination of poor, sick and old, this flick ostensibly suggests that the American Medical Association ought to consider changing its Hippocratic oath from ’First, do no harm,’ to ’First, maximize profits.’