More on Michael Moore’s “Sicko”

Michael Moore continues to seek publicity for his new film, Sicko, which blasts the American health care system. My earlier post warned about the dangers of basing public policy on anecdotes. But as I noted there, I hadn’t seen the film.

Sacramento Bee reporter Daniel Weintraub has and he’s written a very intiguing column titled, “Moore on health insurance: Entertaining but flawed.” His views are interesting in that he’s written very favorably concerning single payer systems (the solution Moore advocates), yet his column takes Moore and his film down several notches. I urge you to read the entire column, but to whet your appetite, here’s some excerpts:

“At turns funny, shocking and just plain sad, the documentary builds a solid indictment of private health insurance.”

“But while his film might be effective as propaganda, it is also flawed. It is a hodgepodge of anecdotes, hasty conclusions and glaring omissions layered one on top of another until the viewer is almost forced to submit to Moore’s thesis.”

“He blames all of the industry’s bad behavior on the profit motive. But one of his biggest villains — Kaiser Permanante — is a nonprofit. And while he does a gut-wrenching segment on Los Angeles hospitals dumping homeless patients back on the street after they are treated, he mentions only in passing that one of the guilty parties is a public hospital owned by the government. Aren’t those the same people he wants to put in charge of all of our health care?”

“He tells the gripping story of a man who died of cancer after his health plan refused to pay for experimental treatment. But he never asks his audience to consider that no matter what kind of system we have, it will not provide unlimited care, especially experimental care. There will always be a gatekeeper. Under a single-payer plan, that person would be a government employee — some might even say a bureaucrat. Would that really be any better?”

For better or worse, Sicko is a film all of us concerned about health care reform are going to have to see. Hopefully we can view it with as open a mind, and as deep an insight, as Weintraub.

Here’s a pdf of the column: Daniel Weintraub: “Moore on health insurance: Entertaining but flawed”