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Overall Rating
4.24

Awesome50%
Worth A Look: 33.82%
Average: 10.29%
Pretty Bad: 1.47%
Total Crap: 4.41%

7 reviews, 26 user ratings


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Sicko
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by Mel Valentin

"Condition critical for U.S. healthcare, but there's a way out."
4 stars

After a three-year hiatus, Academy Award-winning writer/director/polemicist/celebrity Michael Moore ("Fahrenheit 9/11," "Bowling for Columbine," "Roger and Me") is back with his latest documentary, "Sicko," this time taking on the for-profit U.S. healthcare system and the diagnosis isn’t particularly positive. Coming from the left-leaning, activist Moore, neither the diagnosis nor the prognosis is surprising: free, universal, healthcare. That Moore may be right in both instances, of course, depends on what political values you might hold (progressive versus conservative) and general expectations about the level of healthcare you can expect (or want) from different healthcare models. "Sicko" asks more questions than it answers, but at minimum, it should kick start a national dialogue we as Americans desperately need to have.

Sicko doesn’t focus on the 47 million Americans without healthcare a catastrophic crisis away from financial ruin, but instead on the other 300 million Americans who do, in fact, have healthcare through their employers or the government. For them, having “full coverage” doesn’t mean what they think it means. With for-profit health management organizations (HMOs) attempting to keep costs down and shareholder value up, denial of benefits, either during the application process for pre-existing conditions or after a medical claim has been filed, makes good business sense. HMOs have created an entire bureaucracy around that particular principle. Those with insurance simply want their illnesses and, thus, their claims, covered as expected.

Moore personalizes this fundamental conflict between profit and care by letting a select group of individuals tell their stories, each one worse than the last, beginning with a middle aged couple forced to move in with their daughter after they lose their home due to high medical bills and chronic conditions. Others interviewed for Sicko had cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and potentially life-saving surgery for themselves or their loved ones, denied for often contradictory or nonsensical reasons. One story that does end well, however, involves a man who used Michael Moore’s name to clear an HMO’s refusal to fit his young daughter with a cochlear implant. These cases or claims, however, are only a fraction drawn from the more than 25,000 e-mails Moore received when he requested stories about HMO through his website.

Moving from personal stories to a more top-down perspective, Moore decides to check out how other Western industrialized countries handle healthcare. Moore ventures into Canada from Michigan, his home state, first following an American woman who pretends she’s a Canadian resident to obtain healthcare for her and her daughter, then visits two elderly relatives who enumerate the healthcare benefits of being Canadian citizens (they take out private insurance before venturing into the United States). Moore’s relatives mention Thomas Douglas, a Canadian politician who championed universal healthcare. Douglas was voted the “Greatest Canadian” in a 2004 television poll. Even a self-described member of the Canadian Conservative Party accepts free, universal healthcare as a given.

Moore and his crew visit Great Britain, France, and Cuba. Each has free, universal healthcare. In Great Britain, Moore discovers that government doctors still get paid well (one doctor owns a million dollar home and drives an expensive sedan). The government through taxation covers Doctor’s visits and hospital stays. Prescription medicines cost the equivalent of $10 dollars per prescription regardless of amount. France offers free medical care, paid time off to recuperate from serious illnesses (the government pays 65% and employers the other 35%). Besides five weeks of vacation guaranteed by law, France also provides ample childcare and even the occasional nanny. In Cuba with 9/11 rescue workers who have been denied disability benefits or receive inadequate care, Cuban doctors perform extensive testing and treatment programs (not to mention cheap drugs). Not surprisingly, infant mortality rates are lower and longevity higher in all four countries than in the United States (which ranks one spot above Slovenia at number 37 in a recent report by the United Nations).

With Michael Moore, what we’ve seen before is what we get again. Although Moore doesn’t appear in front of the cameras for forty minutes, he makes his presence felt via sardonic voice over narration early on. Moore also slips in several humorous montages, splicing in everything from 50s-era educational films about the evils of so-called “socialized medicine” to Soviet-era propaganda films that extol the virtues of communal farming. Moore also found a choice bit of audiotape between Richard Nixon and one of his top aides, John Ehrlichman, that describes in vivid detail the birth of HMOs in 1971 (Nixon approves of the low-cost, high-profit model based on the denial of healthcare). Almost as good are the price tags Moore inserts digitally over a scene of congressmen entering a stage who’ve received substantial contributions from healthcare and pharmaceutical corporations.

Shouldn’t the United States abandon the inadequate for-profit healthcare system? While Moore makes a strong claim for free, universal healthcare (as well as anyone can in two hours), he doesn’t do himself or his position any favors by downplaying or ignoring potential criticisms of nationalized healthcare or by visiting Cuba, a non-democratic, communist country, when frankly, it gives Castro free propaganda and Moore’s right-wing critics rhetorical ammunition to use against him and his argument for free, universal healthcare.

Still, Moore recognizes the powerful economic, social, cultural, and political forces in the United States that make universal healthcare nearly impossible to implement nationally. He uses former First Lady Hilary Clinton’s ill-fated effort to reform healthcare during Bill Clinton’s first term in office as proof of the difficulties involved. The healthcare industry spent more than $100 million to defeat Hilary Clinton’s reform effort. More than a decade later, Senator Clinton receives substantial campaign contributions from the same industries. Ultimately,"Sicko" raises more questions than it answers, but at least it asks them.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=16229&reviewer=402
originally posted: 06/30/07 04:18:16
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User Comments

6/01/10 User Name This documentary manages to shock and amuse. 4 stars
1/20/10 Croweater88 Free health care is a right, not a privilege. Australia has it too, why doesn't the USA? 5 stars
12/30/09 Dane Youssef An essential bitter pill that may save lives all over this dying country. America is sick. 5 stars
2/17/08 R.W.Welch Harpoon of U.S. healthcare makes its point. Moore's most valid shot. 4 stars
2/14/08 Johnno 11 years under right-wing government & UNIVERSAL health care. (Australia), america is dumb! 5 stars
2/13/08 timunsuri i just see the movie last night, it was moving,sad yet funny at the same time.. 5 stars
1/25/08 matthew a brilliant film, both hilarious and eye opening. Moore's best film yet. SEE IT NOW 5 stars
12/04/07 Andrew I love this movie even though it made me sad. 5 stars
11/14/07 mike I seriously want to move to Europe now or at least Canada 5 stars
7/23/07 Helen This film made me cry. These are true happenings. People are being denied health care. 5 stars
7/21/07 Dana A post card for the salvation of allopathetic medicine. Even free I'm not interested. 4 stars
7/15/07 Monday Morning You'll laugh and you'll cry, which is what the best stories make you do. 5 stars
7/11/07 Billy Don't waste your money, this film should be labeled fiction, not documentry 1 stars
7/06/07 zaw Who even said its wrong and lies not deal with insurance companies! 5 stars
7/06/07 Toni Sobering, heartbreaking and powerful. Best movie of the summer so far. 5 stars
7/04/07 Eric Great movie, but Michael Moore is still in it... 4 stars
7/04/07 Heather One of the best movies I've seen this year, what a wake up for Americans 5 stars
7/03/07 laura bennett Michael Moore should be ashamed of himself 1 stars
7/03/07 cam BIG Lies. Any one who would do any checking on his claims and stats, they are ALL WRONG 1 stars
7/01/07 Ole Man Bourbon Had it been more logical and focused, Sicko could've zeroed on Ins Co's dfradment of cust's 3 stars
6/30/07 Booyah Boy I'd suggest Mr Sobcynski should get acquainted with Errol Morris. Objective isn't boring. 5 stars
6/29/07 billybob Hold Bush & Cheney to the same level of truthfullness we demand of this filmmaker 5 stars
6/26/07 thejames socialism is good. figure it out america 5 stars
6/24/07 Hey Donny M So, you don't have a problem with "truth stretching", eh? 2 stars
6/23/07 DonnyM Stretched Truth but it needs to be to hit you hard. Enjoyable. 5 stars
6/22/07 Ed Sometimes Moore's demeanor gets annoying, but the message is true and powerful 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Jun-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 06-Nov-2007

UK
  N/A

Australia
  09-Aug-2007


Directed by
  Michael Moore

Written by
  Michael Moore

Cast
  Michael Moore



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