Sicko (2007) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: Sicko (2007)

I hate documentaries. Let me qualify that a bit further — I hate Michael Moore documentaries. On a whole, my biggest gripe is that, although they do chronicle an event or a situation, they tend to present only one side of the story. And since I am on the other side of the political affiliation see-saw from Moore, I really get annoyed by his agenda. But the job at hand is to criticize without bias, so that’s what I’ll try my damnedest to do.

Sicko, in case you hadn’t heard, is a movie chronicling one of the biggest nightmares plaguing the United States. No, not Iraq (he’s already covered that in “Fahrenheit 9/11”). I’m talking about healthcare. It’s a big fucking mess and we all know it. Moore takes a well deserved stab at exposing the current situation here at home by asking, “Why does the most powerful country in the world have such terrible medical care?”

And on the surface it’s a good question ask. There is clearly a problem with the way healthcare is provided to the citizens of this country. The first problem is approximately, fifty million people don’t have insurance. This forces them to not see doctors for problems, which if treated in a timely manner, wouldn’t be life threatening. This actually costs us more in the long run, when emergency techniques are needed rather than preventative. The other problem unveiled is that those who do have insurance are either under-insured or denied access to due to cost controlling measures.

Moore gets to the heart of the problem: Money. The mean green, baby. Healthcare is big business here in the states. Really big. He interviews dozens of people who, while having insurance, were denied treatments for various reasons like:

  • Pre-existing ailments. Have a heart condition? Your open heart surgery isn’t covered.
  • Typos on their forms. Make a mistake filling out any of your paperwork? Coverage waived.
  • Not getting approval for a procedure. Go to an unapproved hospital in an emergency? Services won’t be paid for.

The list goes on and on. But of course, Moore only showcases the horror stories. I’ve been rushed to a hospital for emergency care and my HMO didn’t deny my coverage. Same goes for my children. A lot of these denials could be resolved with a bit of foresight. Finding out what your policy says is the responsibility of all those who signed on the dotted line. Exceptions can be made with the insurance companies if you present to them a compelling case.

The answer? Well, Moore believes we should be following the lead of Canada, Britain, France and Cuba. Government sponsored healthcare. You get sick, no matter what your social class, you get service. To top it off, the care you get is free or pretty damn close to free. I’m all for it. I too believe everyone should have access to the best medical care possible. Money shouldn’t be a factor in deciding whether someone lives or dies. But there are a few glaring omissions from his presentation. What are the underlying reasons for offering free medical care? What is the toll to the country for providing free medical care? Does it have anything to do with failing economies or high unemployment rates? I personally don’t have a clue, but I’d love to see a more in-depth investigation on the issue.

So will I recommend Sicko? Sure, I will. It’s not nearly as good as “Roger & Me,” but it does provide an eye opening look at something that affects each and every one of us. All I ask is that you don’t swallow what he’s feeding you hook, line and sinker. He is presenting his own side and his own agenda — it’s good enough to start the discussion, but not nearly good enough to solve it.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
4 Star Rating: Good


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The Critical Movie Critics

I'm an old, miserable fart set in his ways. Some of the things that bring a smile to my face are (in no particular order): Teenage back acne, the rain on my face, long walks on the beach and redneck women named Francis. Oh yeah, I like to watch and criticize movies.

'Movie Review: Sicko (2007)' have 8 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 16, 2007 @ 8:27 pm Stewart Consort

    Your review gives a “fair and balance” review of Moore’s picture–thank you.

    One editorial comment, though: missing word []…. last sentence…

    “He is presenting his own side and his own agenda – it’s good enough to start the discussion, but [not]nearly good enough to solve it.”

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 17, 2007 @ 6:12 am General Disdain

    Thanks for pointing out the error, gksden. Review has been edited.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 17, 2007 @ 10:21 am probush

    I agree with the reviewer, documentaries are usually one sided. In Michael Moore’s case he definitely skews his arguments (which he calls the truth) to aid his political agenda. Take what he says with a grain of salt.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 22, 2007 @ 7:38 pm Dan

    The startling point for me about US health care is not only that it leaves so many people uncovered but that the cost per capita of healthcare in the US is nearly twice that of the next most expensive country.

    Viewed in a different way, The Economist reported in January 2006 that in 2004 the US spent 16% of its GDP on healthcare, twice the OECD average. The next most expensive country in the OECD (Switzerland) only spent 11%. And this 16% of GDP would presumably be higher if the 50m Americans who are not properly covered did have adequate access to healthcare.

    The standard response to such figures – which are, after all, well-known – is to ask whether US healthcare is more expensive simply because it is better. Many studies suggest that the quality of US treatment is at best only equal and may be worse than those of other major countries. Consumer Affairs reported in November 2005 the results of a study that showed US healthcare to be more error-prone than that of Canada, NZ, the UK, Germany and Australia. The study also found that getting an appointment with a doctor in the US took significantly longer than in most of the countries mentioned. While all systems have their strengths and weaknesses, it’s clear that US healthcare is not noticeably better than those of its major OECD peers. Google around and you will find that there is a decent body of research that comes to this conclusion.

    In conclusion, it is eminently reasonable for reviewers of Sicko to ask what universal healthcare would cost the US. However, the answer is “probably a heck of a lot less than your current system”. I haven’t seen Sicko but from the reviews it seems that it does not explicitly address the point of high healthcare costs. I wish it did, if only to persuade American skeptics that universal healthcare is not the money-devouring monster it is sometimes thought to be.


  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 30, 2007 @ 7:44 am General Disdain

    Dan, you have obviously done more reading on this subject than I have.

    I did just watch a Moore interview where he admitted that it takes longer for elective or non life threatening surgeries to be done in timely manner in universal healthcare systems. There was also the issue of abuse raised. People taking advantage of drug benefits and/or clogging the network by going to doctors for uneeded treatments.

    I’ll be the first agree that something has to be done to overhaul the system. Having the insurance companies dictate who receives care and who doesn’t is a blatant example of conflict of interest.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 30, 2007 @ 8:56 am Dan

    “he admitted that it takes longer for elective or non life threatening surgeries to be done in timely manner in universal healthcare systems”

    The anecdotal evidence I have heard or seen suggests that this is true. I think the classic case is (supposedly) non-life threatening issues like hip replacement surgery. So, there are waiting lists in some countries, without doubt, which for the person who wants or needs surgery is no joke at all.

    Still, a study published in Health Affairs July/August 2005 argued that “health spending in the twelve countries with waiting lists averaged $2,366 per capita.. while in the seven countries without waiting lists, it averaged $2,696—both much less than U.S. spending of $5,267 per capita”. This implies that we cannot ascribe the high cost of US healthcare to the lack of waiting lists alone.

    I’m no cheerleader: I certainly don’t see the health systems of the UK or France as being perfect, but at least they do cover (without quibbling) those they are supposed to cover and at a reasonable cost. As somebody who has lived outside the UK for many years now, I don’t think Brits appreciate just how good a job the NHS does.

    I am, however, aghast at how bad a job the US system does. My experience travelling and working in the US and with Americans overseas suggests to me that they are generally decent and generous people who could and should have come up with a much saner and more humane system of healthcare than currently exists. In other words there’s a tremendous disconnect here – and this is in a country that has such a strong tradition of charitable thought and action. Why be stingy in healthcare? It doesn’t make sense. Let’s see if Sicko generates more than talk.


  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 18, 2008 @ 10:57 am Lonnie

    Moore is a fat, opinionated frog. Someone should wipe the floor with his face for spouting his liberal propaganda.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 13, 2008 @ 3:29 am Matt

    I agree that Michael Moore is very biased. He is a lot like John Pilger, but funnier.

    To be called a doco, it should present what is happening (or happened in the past) with at least a nod to balance. But he selects only certain elements and is downright dishonest in his presentation of them. Moore’s works are more like visual diatribes.

    A good example of his dishonesty comes from Roger and Me. One of the main claims he made in this film was that he could never get the Roger of the title to give him an interview. But it turns out that he did get one, yet he withheld it from viewers because it didn’t suit his purposes. This shows that he despises his audience as much as the people he makes his “documentaries” about!

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