Thursday, December 6, 2007


This past weekend, Matt and I finally had a chance to rent Sicko, the latest Michael Moore documentary. I honestly don't know what took me so long, as I am an avid fan of his. But no matter your opinion of Michael Moore (or your political leanings), this film is a necessary expose of what really goes on in this for-profit system, and I can't imagine anyone walking away from seeing it without being persuaded that real, lasting change is needed.

I have my own beef with my health insurance company, which refuses to pay for my personal trainer sessions at the gym, which have helped improve my health dramatically as well as facilited a 37.5 (and counting) weight loss, but would have easily approved me (at my starting weight) for weight loss surgery, an expensive, risky procedure with long-term side effects. I pay almost $275 a month for my trainer sessions plus my gym membership, and if I didn't think it was worth every penny, and absolutely necessary for my long-term health and well-being, I wouldn't have such a high credit card bill right now.

I've also been deeply affected by our nation's failure to provide healthcare as a basic, fundamental service to all its citizens. In 2002, Matt's godmother was out of work and had been for some time. However, she made too much money with unemployment -- $20 a month to be exact -- to qualify for medical assistance. She suffered what she believed to be a heart attack, and despite her lack of insurance she went to a local emergency room and tried to get treated. The hospital ran some tests, claimed they couldn't figure out what was causing her pain/shortness of breath/fatigue/etc., and sent her home. Later she tried the same thing at another hospital, where her weight was blamed for her problems. A few weeks later, she died at home, having suffocated as a result of her heart not getting enough oxygen due to scar tissue caused by the heart attack that the hospitals said she never had. She was 54. I believe fully that if she'd been insured, she'd still be alive today.

In Sicko, Michael Moore exposes the lies and propaganda we've all been fed for so many years regarding universal care. He takes a look at the government-provided health care systems of Canada, Britain, France, and even Cuba, and finds that not only do citizens there not have to pay for their health care, they receive care that is superior to what we offer here -- including preventative care -- and they live longer, healthier lives than we do, have lower infant mortality rates, and nobody EVER goes bankrupt because they can't pay their medical bills.

In what was for me the most deeply moving part of the film, Moore exposed the sickening practice of hospitals kicking patients out for not being able to pay. Tears spilled down my cheeks as I watched these poor, often elderly people dumped on the sidewalk, some still in hospital gowns. What kind of a country do we live in, where hospitals can treat people this way? Where profits are so important that we can treat human beings like garbage?

After the first of the year, our insurance co-pay is going up to $20 for a visit to the primary care doctor; $30 for a specialist. The co-pay for my thyroid medication is going up to $40 a month -- that's almost $500 a year out of pocket just for one drug, and Matt takes medicine, too. How long will it be before we have to decide between paying for healthcare and paying our bills?

In my state, SCHIP -- the State Children's Health Insurance Program -- has recently been expanded to cover ALL children not already covered by private insurance or medical assistance. This is definitely a necessary step in the right direction. However, until everyone in this country has the ability to receive healthcare, without worrying about how they're going to pay for it, I really don't think we can call ourselves a civilized country.


Misty said...

i tried responding earlier and the site froze. This was the first chance I've had to come back...

I agree with everything you said. this movie is a must see. I too am fond of him, despite how most of "my people" dislike him. HA! Just thinking that made me laugh...

Our healthcare system is atrocious. It's a nightmare, plane and simple... Between the two of us, I imagine we could feel pages upon pages about our issues/opinions/experiences...

P.s. I am SOOO glad you are blogging Maggie!

Ty-Anna said...

you hit the nail on the head. This film had me in tears and outraged. I know here we make a lot of sacrifices in regards to our health care. Our children come first. I will take them in for all appts, check ups, pay all the crazy fees etc and will decide whether or not I REALLY need to go to the doctor to save money so that we can pay bills. We have insurance but the copays can be ridiculous and the prescription copays suck.

What kills me is that my husband's company switches back and forth between 2 companies every year to save money (for themselves that is) of them will not pay for birth control...What?? so you won't pay that $45 a month?? but would pay for a full pregnancy? doctors visits, prescriptions, hospital stay,etc?? I mean it seems it would save them money to pay for the birth control??

just doesn't make sense...

I'm so glad you finally got to see this film.

My oldest (18) has decided to move to Canada as a student and just stay, lol

Anne said...

This movie has been on my "must see" list for awhile, and your blog has prompted me to move it up the list - FAST!

There is so much wrong with the healthcare system in this country, in each and every area, and a lot of it comes down to power & control. Insurance companies have the power to decide what they will cover(I'm sure we've experienced similar headaches over fertility expenses)and at what level. Healthcare professionals & facilities deciding who to treat - and how well(though I've been blessed to work with a few angels in this area). Pharmacists can choose what prescriptions they are unwilling to fill based on their personal, religious beliefs.

Wouldn't it be nice if the power over our health was in our hands?