Michael Moore’s Sicko: Is It Really Accurate?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 19, 2018

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Michael Moore’s new film, Sicko, opens in theaters on June 29th and has been receiving a lot of attention. Unlike his previous films, Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 911, Sicko is attracting a wide viewer ship. Film critics are praising his latest work as being far less biased than his earlier films. But, are the stories he tells in the film really accurate?

The general consensus

The general consensus seems to be yes – and that’s from conservatives and liberals alike. It’s no secret that the healthcare system in America is rapidly spiraling downward. One story in the film tells of a man who lost the upper portion of two of his fingers, the middle and the ring. The hospital told him that they would reattach the middle finger for $60,000 and the ring finger for $12,000. He was happily married – and apparently somewhat frugal – so he went with the ring finger.

Stories like this are commonplace in our healthcare system and affect those with and without insurance alike. In a recent television interview, Moore said, “The film really is about the middle class who think they have insurance. The cost of healthcare is now the number 1 cause of bankruptcy in the US today. However, it’s not the government that’s bad, it’s the system.”

Eliminate the middleman

Our healthcare system today isn’t like it was years ago when a doctor decided what a patient needed, provided that service and the insurance company – relying on the doctor’s prognosis – paid the claim. In today’s system, the doctor must contact the HMO – or middleman – to see what they will pay before administering care. According to Moore, “Doctors now have to call someone else to get permission to treat you. It’s just ridiculous. If they pay for all these claims, they don’t make any money. There simply shouldn’t be an intermediary between a doctor and a patient.”

Insurers have an obligation to their policyholders

Insurance industry veterans like Bob Scott, an attorney with the Advocate Law Group, thinks the film is an accurate portrayal of the healthcare system in America today and says there are lots more stories. “Sicko tells only a fraction of the stories out there – it barely scratches the surface of abuses that occur every day.” Moore seems to agree and genuinely feels that insurers have an obligation to their policyholders. He summed it up very well when he said, “You wouldn’t think about a fire department saying, ‘We’ve been spending too much money on fires, so we’re going to cut back.’”

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