June 29, 2007

Truth: An Antidote to Sicko

Justin Katz

Having watched Michael Moore's latest bit of propaganda — Sicko, about the evil of American healthcare in comparison to saintly socialism — a bit more closely than is probably healthy, David Gratzer felt compelled to offer another view:

Consider, for instance, Mr. Moore's claim that ERs don't overcrowd in Canada. A Canadian government study recently found that only about half of patients are treated in a timely manner, as defined by local medical and hospital associations. "The research merely confirms anecdotal reports of interminable waits," reported a national newspaper. While people in rural areas seem to fare better, Toronto patients receive care in four hours on average; one in 10 patients waits more than a dozen hours.

This problem hit close to home last year: A relative, living in Winnipeg, nearly died of a strangulated bowel while lying on a stretcher for five hours, writhing in pain. To get the needed ultrasound, he was sent by ambulance to another hospital.

In Britain, the Department of Health recently acknowledged that one in eight patients wait more than a year for surgery. Around the time Mr. Moore was putting the finishing touches on his documentary, a hospital in Sutton Coldfield announced its new money-saving linen policy: Housekeeping will no longer change the bed sheets between patients, just turn them over. France's system failed so spectacularly in the summer heat of 2003 that 13,000 people died, largely of dehydration. Hospitals stopped answering the phones and ambulance attendants told people to fend for themselves.

No wonder, Gratzer observes, single-payer systems worldwide are beginning to make way for private healthcare, even as Western dead-enders push for the only fair system — one in which the wealthy can travel great distances and pay high prices for rapid service while the average shmoe is forced into compliance with Darwin's prescription.

Sheesh! What do we plebs think "privilege" means?

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I'm curious -- do you object to single-payer healthcare on principle? Or is your objection based on the fear that it would lead to worse healthcare in America?

Posted by: mrh at June 29, 2007 8:54 AM

I think the reasonable fear is trusting our health and survival to the same people that brought you the IRS and the Iraq War.

Posted by: Greg at June 29, 2007 10:07 AM


It's governmental over-regulation of health insurance has brought us to the point where we are today, where insurance is so expensive that many people either can't afford it or (generally in the case of young, health people) don't want it. As an example, look at both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Both states have loosened their insurance mandates to allow insurance companies to sell lower cost insurance, as part programs intended to expand coverage.

If loosening the regulations is all it takes to lower insurance costs, why isn't loosening them in general (including decoupling insurance from employment and allowing people to buy insurance across state-lines) a good idea too?

Or conversely, what makes you think that building on the regulatory scheme that we have now is going to make things better?

Posted by: Andrew at June 29, 2007 10:29 AM

Hey, the attacks on Mike are only getting more vicious. When it comes to getting ripped off for health coverage, there are no conservatives or liberals - just dissatisfied customers.
If this movie wins over some of the people who previously dismissed him as just a liberal propagandist, Mssrs. Bush and Cheney are going to be vewy, vewy angwy. I could see this movie drawing even more desperate outrage than "Fahrenheit 911" ever did.

Posted by: Rhody at June 29, 2007 11:35 AM

I fear socialism.

Posted by: John at June 29, 2007 1:23 PM

>>I fear socialism.

A fear which is well founded!

Posted by: Tom W at June 30, 2007 11:07 AM
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