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What Michael Moore forgot to tell you

By Richard E. Ralston
web posted September 10, 2007

SickoMichael Moore's comedy-drama Sicko presented a great deal of misinformation—too much to summarize in a short column. Besides, if anyone in the audience really believed that all Cubans receive superb health care when Mr. Moore's cameras are not running, there is not much I can say to help them. However, those who saw the film should at least be aware of some of the information that was left out.

After bemoaning the amount of money that Americans spend on health care, Mr. Moore castigated the "greed" of an insurance company for not providing routine and immediate approval of a medical procedure in the 1980s that might have saved a patient's life at a cost of half a million dollars. He did not mention whether there should be an upper limit on any procedure, no matter how experimental or expensive, and what that would do to health care costs. A million dollars? Ten million dollars? That would surely provide incentives for a lot of medical experiments.

When Mr. Moore described Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) as the reation of a dark and evil conspiracy by Richard Nixon, for some reason he forgot to mention that Nixon's enthusiastic partner in pushing the HMO Act of 1973 through a Democratic-controlled Congress was Senator Edward Kennedy. He also forgot to mention that the Clinton Administration's health care proposals in 1994 would have forced most Americans into HMOs.

Longer lifespans in Canada were cited as proof that Canada has a superior health care system. Mr. Moore forgot to mention how many Canadians die in traffic accidents, are shot by criminals, are killed in combat, are
addicted to illegal drugs, have diseases primarily afflicting racial minorities, or are obese, compared to Americans. He also forgot to establish whether Canadians started living longer only after they nationalized their health care system, or whether they always lived longer than Americans. He did not mention that if they do live two years longer, they need to—because that is how long they often have to wait for surgery.

When Mr. Moore filmed two of his relatives buying health insurance in fear before they traveled to America, he forgot to mention that many Canadians travel to America for the express purpose of spending their own money for more than $1 billion in American health care each year.

Mr. Moore interviewed a physician in the British National Health Service (NHS) about how wonderful free health care is in Britain, and how satisfied the physicians are in the NHS. He forgot to mention that more than one third of physicians working for the NHS buy private insurance so they don't have to rely on the "free" care, and that more than 6 million British citizens also buy private insurance for the same reason. He did not mention that this year the health minister admitted that one in eight British patients still wait for more than a year for treatment. He
neglected to say that Britain has had to import more than 20,000 physicians in the last three years—chiefly from Middle Eastern and Asian countries—because so few of the British want to enter or stay in the profession after sixty years of experience with the NHS.

While praising the superiority of French medical care and the fact that French doctors make house calls—almost as an aside to praising the superiority of every element of French society compared to America's—Mr. Moore forgot to mention that 13,000 Frenchmen died of heat prostration and dehydration during a heat wave in the summer of 2003, when most French physicians were on summer vacation and did not show up in emergency rooms, let alone make house calls.

Michael Moore forgot to mention why he jammed seriously ill patients into a small boat to take them to Cuba, in order to film a stunt attempting to prove the superiority of Cuban health care—when, for much less money, he could have written them a check for care in America. It must have been compassion.

Most importantly, when Mr. Moore mentioned that "every industrial country" except the United States has adopted medical socialism, he did not mention why that means that we should. Many of those countries still have monarchies. Should the United States? Many of those countries have established state religions. Should the United States? Many of those countries have long waiting lists and severe rationing of health care. Should the United States?

Michael Moore forgot to mention what the United States does have that other countries do not: a Declaration of Independence. A Constitution. A Bill of Rights. The concepts of individual rights, personal choice, free markets, private investment that develops most of the world's new medications, and the benefit of a private relationship between physicians and their patients without third-party interference.

In his hymn to every other nation's superiority to America—in proportion to their commitment to collectivism—Michael Moore forgot to mention any American values at all. ESR

Richard E. Ralston is Executive Director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, in Newport Beach, California. Copyright © 2007 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. All rights reserved.


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