We saw it last night – SiCKO. And I have to admit – I walked out feeling a bit tangled.
Michael Moore gets people talking. You don’t have to like him and you can call him “un-American.” You can hate his films. You can love his films. The fact of the matter is that his films start discussions, and these discussions are necessary.
That disclaimer tossed out there, the film generated a big “sigh” from me. The first half of it, showing images of people working three jobs to cover their healthcare expenses, negotiating “which finger to reattach” after an accidental amputation based on what a patient can afford, and the stress of making sense of insurance denials. This portion resonated for me on several levels. The battles faced not by someone without health insurance but by the Americans who have it.
I thought about my own insurance battles. Like the hoops I had to jump through to have my insulin pump covered as a “medical necessity.” Or when insurance companies told me that “four test strips a day is enough for a type 1 diabetic,” not taking into account any hypoglycemic unawareness, jaunts to the gym, or the need to know if I’m steady before going to bed. I thought about the pump infusion sets I’ve used for more than their prescribed length because I couldn’t afford the copays for an extra box of sets. The phone calls to insurance representatives that include phrases like, “Um, I need it to live,” and “I can’t believe you’re telling me, a diabetic, that testing my blood sugar isn’t necessary.”
Michael Moore makes several talking points that Chris and I talked about for the rest of the night. Moments in the film where Moore illustrates how keeping a society blanketed in debt makes them more dedicated (desperate?) members of the workforce. This was disturbing to me, as I thought about people I knew who worked 70 hour work weeks at incredibly trying jobs, just so that they can have medical insurance.
The part of this film that I didn’t like was Moore’s blinders-on view of universal health care. No system is perfect. He made it seem as though after the film finished, I needed to grab my passport and go ex-Pat, heading off to France or Britain or even hopping the border to Canada. I do think that countries practicing preventative care vs. acute care are far smarter than the reactive United States, but I don’t want to pack my bags and trot off to France. I would rather help change to happen within our own borders and take measures to fix a problem instead of abandoning it. Aren’t we a force to be reckoned with, the blogosphere? Aren’t we some of the voices that Big Pharma thinks about nervously, right before they fall asleep at night?
(Whoa, Kerri. A bit idealistic today. Don’t you want to go to France? They have unlimited sick days. And government employees who do your laundry. Stop humming “The Greatest Love of All …”)
I’m fine with doing my own laundry. I’m fine with working hard and earning my medical insurance. But I’m not fine with being told that my medicine isn’t “covered” or “necessary” or that insurance companies would rather pay for my dialysis vs. my insulin pump. Preventative care is what protects people with diabetes, keeping our potential diabetes-related complications quiet longer. Being plucked for every cent we earn, or worse denied, for that preventative care is cruel.
Go see this movie. See what gnaws at you.