SiCKO Review: What’s Wrong With American Health Care?

by Ed Lau on June 20, 2007


As a Canadian, I usually hear all sorts of things about how great America is from our friends to the south. While I was playing WoW, I would hear Canadian jokes all day. I admit there are things I do like about the United States but it sort of boggles my mind that the richest country in the world still doesn’t have universal health care. To me, it seems like a natural human right that if you live anywhere, the hospitals should do all they can to help if you’re sick.

Apparently that’s not the case according to Michael Moore’s new film, SiCKO. Moore’s been criticized in the past for making his documentaries too sensationalist and while I don’t think many of the events that happen in Roger And Me, Bowling For Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 were as staged as some of his critics claim (or at least not in a way that affects the outcome), I agree that some scenes were probably in the interests of making a good movie rather than revealing the facts. I admit that the trip to Cuba was a bit much and I’m not sure other hospitals in the area would be well equipped as that one but the fact that they were willing to do anything possible for visitors was more than what you could say about hospitals that send poor patients away in taxis.

I recently got some prescription drugs to take down the swelling for my injured knee and they just handed it to me without any money being exchanged since I have coverage through my company. It wasn’t an expensive drug to begin with but prescription drugs in Canada cost very little or nothing at all. I’ve never paid for a visit to the doctor, physiotherapist or hell, I can get a massage to ease the tension in my back and insurance will cover it. I did pay a small fee one time I went to the dentist because I had no idea what my coverage was like but it wasn’t more than a grande at Starbucks.

However, I know for a fact that Canadian health care isn’t as perfect as Moore portrays it. I’ve waited for more than a couple hours in an emergency room before. My condition wasn’t life threatening but the folks in the movie didn’t appear to be dying either, yet they claimed they waited for about 20-40 minutes. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but Moore is quite correct when he claims most Western countries have better health care than the US. People here do have to wait sometimes for surgery or transplants and such but that’s not because insurance companies refuse to pay, it’s because, well, the hospitals can only do so much at once. I’ve never thought for a second that if I was dying, I would be turned away.

It’s truly horrible to see how many people’s lives were financially ruined after they got sick or injured in SiCKO…and these are the people that have insurance. It’s even worse to see the number of people who died because insurance companies refused to pony up the cash to help them. They were essentially sentencing these people with cancer or other life threatening conditions to death. I’m amazed that people would think about doing business and getting rich from people’s pain.

No matter what people think of Moore’s new movie, no one will argue that the United States’ privatized health care system is, well, terrible. Let’s make no mistake here…these are companies who are, like every other company, out to maximize profit. At a fundamental level, I don’t see a problem with that since I believe in capitalism. However, there are things that we should not make money from and one of those is the health of our fellow man. I’ve done some pretty sketchy things for profit in my lifetime but I don’t think I’d ever be able to deny someone a treatment that would save their life in order to make a few dollars.

What really got to me in this movie was how poorly they treated 9/11 rescue volunteers who had developed some type of sickness due to their involvement in trying to save other lives. I don’t know about everyone else but I regard these folks as heroes. They put themselves in harms way in order to help others but they were brushed off by their own government and not given help because they weren’t on the government payroll. That’s just sick, in my opinion, to deny someone who voluntarily went to help in one of your nation’s most devastating moments quality health care.


I hesitate sometimes to call Michael Moore’s movies documentaries. Like any opinionated movie, you should take it as just that, opinion. Just as you shouldn’t blindly follow those who would say the American system is genius, you also shouldn’t take everything Moore says as fact. Your view should be your own to form after you have received all the information. However, in this case, there are very few things I can find that aren’t based in truth in SiCKO. The United States is actually ranked 37th (just above Slovenia) in the WHO’s rankings. The health insurance companies are making a bundle. I’ve been to France and London and while I haven’t had anyone from their government do my laundry, everything else is quite true. Canada isn’t utopia but I’m glad I live somewhere that will care for me when I’m sick.

Some people believe Michael Moore is anti-American. That he creates all these films to criticize America but personally, I think he loves his country enough to want to see it change. Honestly though, I don’t see any of that happening any time soon. Dubya was re-elected months after Fahrenheit 9/11 and there are just as many gun deaths after Bowling For Columbine. However, SiCKO affects almost every average American and everyone should protest the way they are treated by this corrupt system, a system more concerned with making money than caring for their fellow Americans. Moore said recently:

“We are the richest country in the world. We spend more on health care than any other country. Yet we have the worst health care in the Western world. Come on. We can do better than this.”

You can but I guess there are simply too many people in American who don’t want to. They’re too busy counting their money. I could go on forever about this movie and how the system is flawed but I’ll end with this. Go see this movie and, hopefully, be inspired to make things better. Demand it! Quality health care is a right, not just for the privileged.

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10

in Current Events,Entertainment

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Natron June 20, 2007 at 7:49 am

I know that his sensationalism is to much for many people, but I believe he has some great points to make, and hopefully will open a few eyes. I also do not think it’s anti-American to disagree. Isn’t that what this country was built on, the right to think freely and voice an opinion.

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Ed Lau June 20, 2007 at 8:02 pm

Well, there have been many incidents over the last few years that have called anyone that disagreed with the president “un-American”. It seems that unless you follow the the government blinding, you don’t love your country.

I tell you, if something what happened in SiCKO happened in almost any other first world country in the world, there would be instant public outrage.

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ms danielle June 20, 2007 at 12:53 pm

i didn’t read this whole review just yet bc i haven’t seen the movie and i don’t like to read or watch reviews before i go to see something i’m really interested in. i’ll come back to it though…

but i will say that when i received a letter in the mail a few weeks ago stating that my private health care premium is going up because i turned thirty — which apparently throws me into a whole new old people category — i thought, “these mother f***ers…” gangstas i tell you…

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Scot Smith June 20, 2007 at 9:16 pm

Moore has some points to make. Fortunately they are very biased and opinionated. Unfortunately many uneducated people will flock to the theaters (just like when 9/11 came out) and take his word for gospel without taking the time to do further research.

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Todd July 13, 2007 at 11:22 am

Your reply is very valid and I will respect that opinion so long as you admit that Rush L. and Ann C. are also every bit as biased and don’t have any interest in being accuurate with thier information

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CASH for COMMENTS June 21, 2007 at 6:40 am

” I think he loves his country enough to want to see it change.”

Re: I can’t agree more with this line. I think it’s very brave of him to go against the masses. I think this is why some polictical issues arise. It’s funny how the presidential canidates start to bring up this universal health care idea right when the movie is about to drop.

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derek June 21, 2007 at 10:17 am

I’m interested in seeing this movie but will likely be waiting as I don’t think my wife will attend with me and we rarely see a movie in the theatre anyway.

I’ve yet to see any of his previous films but I do admire him for taking a stance on issues and doing his part to bring attention to the issue, whether I agree with his stance or not does not diminish how I feel about what he does.

To be honest, I’ve not done much research on the healthcare in other countries but do feel the healthcare in the US is terrible. I’d probably classify myself as someone with pretty good insurance and the amount of money that comes out of our pocket for healthcare is stunning. When I think of people that have poor or no healthcare in this country, it boggles the mind.

It is a shame to see that a serious illness or injury can ruin a person or family financially. Further, insurance companies can drop people or send their premiums through the roof after large expenses and don’t forget the pre-existing condition nonsense.

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Gary Lee June 21, 2007 at 9:48 pm

growing up in an asian household . . i didn’t see the doctor unless I was about to die . . .with that being said . . . i agree that universal health care should be implemented in the US, but the problem is that the richest country in the world also has the highest amount of illegal immigrants in the world . . . . so right now, i just don’t like the idea of paying taxes to pay for someone’s health care who might not be paying their taxes

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Ed Lau June 21, 2007 at 10:19 pm

I don’t see how that’s a huge problem. Make people show a social security card or a passport or something that proves they are a citizen of the United States beforehand.

You have to have proper identification no matter where you are in the world. Some places choose to serve tourists and illegal aliens alike but it have fellow countrymen die or become financially devastated because they’re sick is unacceptable.

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derek June 21, 2007 at 9:52 pm

Gary, you touch on a good point regarding the people that do not pay taxes but I don’t think it is fair to only include illegal immigrants in that group.

I’m sure there are a good number of people making a nice wage that are not paying taxes like they should.

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Brett @ bnordin.com January 26, 2010 at 3:02 am

Just watched this movie the other night. Obviously he is one end of the opinion but it’s still crazy the health care they have over there. And it’s shocking how dumb they are to believe the government about the “down falls” of Canada’s health care!

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