Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Michael Moore's Sicko - DVD Release Nov. 6th!

As a card carrying member of the Blue State ilk, I love Michael Moore. But even if your views swing more to the right, it's hard to dismiss the issues he raises in his latest documentary, Sicko. When I saw this movie in July, I was left with one thought -- "Damn, I should move to Canada!" Or England or France--or any other the world's nations who consider access to health care a right and not a privilege.

It would be easy to explore the problems faced by those living without health insurance in the U.S. Moore does in fact profile several, including a man who accidentally sliced off two of his fingers and was faced with costs of $60k to attach his middle finger and $12k to attach his ring finger. Having no health insurance and limited funds, he got the ring finger re-attached for the bargain price of $12k but is left without his most important digit. Well, it's important for saluting drivers in L.A., anyway. But I digress...

The DVD includes interviews and extras that didn't make it into the film. Extended excerpts from his interview with Tony Benn, British former Labour MP and Cabinet Minister, presenting an incredibly lucid and logical argument for socialized health care. As Benn points out, we have socialized police and fire service and public education--why not a public health care system? Says Benn, "If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people." Other excerpts include the story of an uninsured woman stricken with a cancerous tumor on her spine whose fundraiser to pay the cost of her treatment disqualified her from receiving a promised discount on care which would total tens of thousands of dollars, the Hollywood premiere and the video to the song Alone Without You by Nightwatchman, which was featured in the film.

Also included on the DVD, a look at the almost utopian country of Norway--currently ranked number one in the UN Human Development Index. In addition to Norway's incredibly progressive social and health policies, Moore features a look at their very humane prison system. A possible topic for his next project? Although their approach to crime and punishment may seem far too liberal, Norway's murder rate is 75% less than the U.S.--for males 15-24 it is 1/10th of the U.S. They have 80% fewer rapes, 1/10th the number of armed robberies.

Moore makes the point that the U.S. could learn a thing or two from other countries. I love America and being American and I truly believe this is the best country on the planet. But, it could be better--we can do better. One of the reasons we are so strong and innovative is the diversity of cultures and peoples who have come together to form the uniquely heterogeneous fabric of our society. Surely we could import more of that multi-cultural "best practice" mentality into manifesting our credo of entitlement of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Which brings me to the most important extra on the DVD: the report on H.R. 676, a bill that would expand and improve the existing Medicare system to provide National Health Insurance for all individuals living in the U.S. Imagine not having to worry about going bankrupt while trying to fight breast cancer? Or worrying about losing your home while recovering from a serious auto accident? The legislation would basically eliminate private health insurance--except for medically unnecessary procedures such as cosmetic surgery. But since health insurers primary goal is to prevent you from getting health care in order to maximize profits, it's no great loss. Check and see whether or not your representative supports the legislation--and contact them to ask them to support H.R. 676 or thank them if they already have.

And check out Sicko on DVD! It's an eye-opener!


  1. I've decided that if I ever need surgery or get some rare disease, I'll make my boyfriend marry me and head off to England. Isn't that sad? I can't wait to see this documentary. It'll probably depress me but knowledge is power. Right?

  2. Apparently you don't need to be a British citizen or married to one to receive health care in the U.K. When Denis Leary was over there with his wife Anne in 1990, she gave birth prematurely to their son--and the whole neo-natal deal was all taken care of by the British government.

    Not that making David marry you is a bad plan or anything. ;)