A timely warning about health care

Kate’s out of town, and as part of the decadent, bachelor lifestyle that I’ve adopted while she’s away, I went out to the movies. Ok, it doesn’t sound particularly decadent, but maybe it does when you realise that I bought a chili-chocolate choc-top icecream at the cinema. Alright, maybe not. Anyway, the movie’s what I really wanted to write about.

SiCKO

Michael Moore’s most polished doco yet, again showing America is a scary place.

Yes, he’s done it again. Another documentary examining the United States, hoping to affect the political debate over there. This time the theme is universal healthcare and the effects of turning the hospital system over to the private sector. The title, rather than referring to patients, appears to refer more to the system itself.

Moore looks around his own country, then heads around the globe to look at some other Western countries. The intent is to ask “if they can do universal healthcare, why can’t we?” But, while he effectively (and amusingly) shows that people there are making good use of their health systems, he fails to identify the cost of universal healthcare or whether those countries are trending towards a more American model.

Certainly here in Australia we are well on our way towards the scary situation he documents in America. Moore has developed a more balanced technique here, as he moves between American examples and foreign examples, and although he shows us emotional moments, he doesn’t linger on them as much as in previous films.

All up, it’s Moore at his most effective. I enjoyed the soundtrack, got sucked into the story, and left with concern for our own country’s future (and America’s present).

My rating: 3.5 stars
***1/2

2 thoughts on “A timely warning about health care”

  1. The idea in a free market, is that the user pays for everything. Since little is universal, taxes can be very low. Since taxes are low, users can afford more in terms of health care. This cannot work in Australia because our taxes are so high. If we are being taxed to high heaven, we should get universal health care, one or the other, I don’t know what’s best, but high taxes and a pure user pays system is just downright unfair. On the other hand, you can hardly look to the UK as a bastion of universal healthcare. You have to pay tax, and you as a tax payer have no say in what sort of mumbo jumbo it gets spent on. The NHS even contributes to a hospital of homeopathy! If that doesn’t make you want a user pays system, what would?

  2. Although this is a bit of a spoiler.. What is particularly clever about Moore’s film is that he isn’t looking at those people who are too poor to pay for health insurance – he’s actually looking at those who can afford health care, but get shafted by the system. The UK NHS system (which having lived there I don’t consider perfect by any means) works on compulsory health insurance. The difference is the insurance is not provided by for-profit, private enterprise.

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