Friday, June 29, 2007
Sicko deals with the problems of the American for-profit health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Its main message is that government-run health care is a better model than the present US health-care system because the present system is designed to maximize profit by minimizing the care delivered to patients.
At one point in the film Moore says: "And the United States slipped to 37 in health care around the world, just slightly ahead of Slovenia."
U.S. health-care system
Anecdotes of people denied care
The movie starts retelling the stories of people who were denied health care, either because they did not have health insurance or because the insurance companies found a way not to pay them. (On February 3, 2006, Moore requested, via his blog, that people send "Health Care Horror Stories" in an effort to share his view on the health care industry.)
- In one case, Doug Noe's insurance provider, Cigna Healthcare, approved a cochlear ear implant for only the left ear of Noe's daughter, Annette, born with an acute hearing disability. Cigna argued that a two-ear operation was "experimental." (When Noe alerted Moore to the case, the insurer reversed its decision.)
- A woman gets stuck with the ambulance bill after a car accident because she didn't clear the charge with her insurer before losing consciousness.
- Also shown is the widow of Tracy Pierce, who died from kidney cancer after his insurer denied a possibly life-saving bone-marrow transplant.
- One woman's insurance provider denied coverage after an operation, because she didn't mention a previous yeast infection on her application.
- Homeless patients were abandoned by Los Angeles hospitals after they had received some medical treatment. (In May 2007, Kaiser Permanente, a large nonprofit health insurer, settled criminal and civil lawsuits by agreeing to establish new rules for discharging homeless patients; paying $55,000 in fines; covering the city attorney’s investigative costs; and spending $500,000 on the homeless for follow-up care and other services.)
- Rick accidentally sawed off the tops of his middle and ring fingers on one hand while working at home. He had no insurance and limited funds at his disposal, so he has to choose whether to have the hospital reattach the end of his middle finger for $60,000 or the end of his ring finger for $12,000. (He chose the ring finger.)