Sicko – An American Tragedy

Yesterday, we did something unusual.

We traveled over 330 miles (about 520 KMs) to New York City just to watch a new movie.

But then Sicko is not just any other movie.

Made by the controversial documentary filmmaker Michael Moore (of Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine and Roger & Me fame), Sicko is a wake-up call to America.

A well-made movie in the Michael Moore tradition of taking up controversial themes, Sicko takes a close look at an extraordinary American tragedy – the plight of the 50 million uninsured people in U.S.A. as well as the harsh treatment of those lucky enough to have insurance by the callous health insurance companies.

At a macro level, Sicko addresses the question of what American society has turned into as a result of the unabashed worship of mammon by the health-care industry.

Blinded by unhealthy greed and abetted by corrupt and uncaring politicians, the health-care industry in America – which includes primarily health insurance companies, hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical companies – has brought about an American tragedy that is literally causing painful misery to countless people every day.

In America, sick people who are uninsured routinely put off treatment for their ailments because they can not afford the astronomical fees charged for even minor problems. Eventually, for many of these sick people the situation only gets worse and may even end in death.

As Moore mentions in Sicko, a person unfortunate enough to have two of his fingers cut off while working had to make a difficult choice – to reattach the ring finger or the middle finger. The unlucky individual opted to have the ring finger attached because it cost $12,000. To have the middle finger reattached would have cost him an astronomical $60,000.

Unlike in India where government hospitals are fairly widespread (but provide shoddy treatment mostly) in cities, small towns and villages, in the U.S. there are no state-run hospitals.

The point that comes through in Sicko is accurate – If you are uninsured, have no money and fall sick in America, you are well and truly SCREWED.

Using interviews and case studies, Moore compares the sorry healthcare situation in America to other advanced countries such as Canada, U.K. and France, where good quality free universal health care is the norm.

Even Cuba, to which country Moore takes a bunch of 9-11 rescue workers denied proper treatment in the U.S. for medical care in the communist nation, has an impressive healthcare system that’d be the envy of all sensible Americans.

Most American politicians are in bed with one element or the other of the healthcare industry and therefore unwilling to take any steps to improve the situation other than cosmetic measures, and even that rarely.

As Sicko shows, even having health insurance is no guarantee of effective treatment because the health insurance industry is forever diligently looking for opportunities to deny treatment, even on the most specious grounds.

Will Sicko make any difference? It’s hard to say but we are pessimistic that the healthcare mess will change anytime soon in the United States of America.

After all, the entrenched and deep-pocketed health care industry has a vested interest in things remaining the same.

By making Sicko, Michael Moore has done a yeoman service in highlighting an entirely avoidable American Tragedy occurring daily for tens of millions of people in this country.

Sicko officially debuts in U.S. theatres on Friday, June 29. If you live in the U.S. or plan on coming here, it’d be a folly not to watch Sicko.

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