Canada, Sicko, Michael Moore No comments
I watched Sicko last night, as promised, and still can't say I'm impressed. The movie starts off by saying that approximately 50 million Americans do not have health insurance, as is their choice. It then goes on to tell us that the movie is not about those 50 million, but instead about the 250 million Americans that do have health insurance. It then purports to show us the atrocities faced by these 250 million people who are denied claims and charged abhorrently large amounts of money for necessary medical treatment.
The problem I have with Michael Moore, is not his opinion, but his method of "proving" his view. Whenever this author makes a movie, you can be sure that it will show one side with an angelic halo and the other side with ugliness extraordinaire. In this specific movie, the ugliness is cast on the American system of "for profit" health care and the angelic halo is cast on the health care systems of Canada, Britain, France, and even Cuba. He goes on to show how Hillary Clinton, at the beginning of the Clinton administration, had made it her goal to bring in a national health care strategy, but was beaten by big budget Health Maintenance Organizations, or HMO, who advertised the most extreme examples of "socialized medicine".
Don't get me wrong, I know, just as well as most Americans do, that their system of health care is broken. A large part of this is the result of, in my opinion, conflicting interests. Doctors who are paid by drug companies to promote their products. HMO's that are more concerned with profit than their client's health and are protected from lawsuit by government intervention. All these things, acting together, cause the system to work against the patient and promote profit instead of health.
The American system, though, is not a "free market". A free market is one that is free from government interference. HMO's being protected from lawsuit, is a form of government intervention, and a big one at that. There is no repealing a decision if someone disagrees with the HMO's decision. What the HMO says is final. If they decide that you do not need the new kidney, they will not pay for it and that's it. Either you are on the hook for funding the new kidney, or you don't get it.
Another large issue that I have, with the movie, is that it relies on emotion for support. It relies on your "knee-jerk" reaction to support his conclusions. He uses 9/11 heroes to bring his point home. These are people that everyone feels for. They went and helped in a, very televised, disaster that affected many people. That it affected so many people, starts the emotions, that we remember how we felt on that day, propels the emotions, and that these people didn't get the help they needed, peaks these emotions. He then goes to Guantanamo Bay, to find the terrorists that were responsible for this disaster, and finds that they are a part of a type of social health system and that they are receiving better health care than these heroes. This is enough to push emotions over the top.
Emotions, however, are not fact. Fact of the matter is, Canadians do face longer waits than their American counterparts. Maybe not in the ER, but I, for example, have to wait 6 months (24 weeks) to get an appointment with my diabetes specialist. Family doctors (General Practitioner or GP) are nearly impossible to find, I gave up looking for one over a year and a half ago. Every one that I called was not taking any new patients. In BC, the average wait time for Cardiac Surgery, surgery of the heart, is 7.3 weeks . General surgery has a wait list of approximately 15,000 people, with approximately 12,700 people done in the 3 months before July 31, 2008 . That would be a wait time of approximately 14.9 weeks. For Neurosurgery, there's roughly a 16.2 week wait with roughly 1800 on the wait list and 1300 being done the 3 months prior to July 31, 2008 . All of this adds up to my conclusion that you either pay with money or time. Money is definitely easier to come by than more time and time is, in my opinion, more valuable. While money passes, you won't die from spending too much. Spend too much time, however, waiting for a desperately needed surgery and you might die, or at the very least, get worse.
Something else that I have come upon, and witnessed first hand, is the abuse of our system that wouldn't happen in the American system. Again, while the American system isn't perfect, the abuses wouldn't happen as often due to the cost associated with its use. Most people are smart enough to know when something is serious enough to visit a hospital. In a system like Canada's, however, you don't need to use your brain, you just go in and have a doctor tell you that you don't need to be there. If someone was to do that in a free system, they'd have to face the consequences of a bill. When faced with a bill, most people will decide to use their brain, as it's cheaper than going to a hospital and having the doctor use theirs. A study, I read about, during the 1970's, compared a free medical type system with those in a Health Savings Account type system. To quote the site Free Market Cure - What's Wrong With American Health Care:
... Back in the 1970s, the RAND think tank in California tracked two thousand families over eight years in a study that cost about a quarter of a billion dollars (adjusting for inflation) - one of the most expensive experiments in the history of social science. The study compared the health and the health-care spending of two groups: one with free health care, the other with some type of cost-sharing up to a point, after which catastrophic insurance kicked in (structurally similar to a Health Savings Account). The result? Those on the free plan cost 40 percent more but in the end were no healthier than those on the HSA-style plan. This suggests that people are able to make intelligent health-care choices when provided with a financial incentive to do so.
As they said in the end, this suggests that people are able to make intelligent health-care choices, read: use their brain, when provided with a financial incentive to do so. When people lack any incentive to use their heads, they will, more often than not, switch to the lazy choice of relying on someone else to make the decision for them. While I believe that people are generally good, I also believe that they are generally lazy. People will do whatever they can to not make a decision or take an action for themselves. To prove this, next time you're out on the highway, pay attention to how many people do not have their full headlights on or use their signals when changing lanes or turning. Ever since the government took away the act of turning on your headlights by implementing Daytime Running Lights, people have been lazy and don't turn on their full lights anymore. They figure, the government has made the decision to do it for them and they'd rather not think about it.
Anyway, I think that's enough of my thoughts for today. If you have any comments, as always, feel free to post them below!