Sicko

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Sicko
Review (8/10)
(By Rich Cline)

Michael Moore mercifully steps back from the pushy tone of Fahrenheit 9/11 with this entertaining documentary about American health care. Frankly, in the USA this should be the most important film of the year.

The starting point is that some 50 million Americans have no health insurance, 18,000 people die every year as a direct result of this, and insurance companies have become so greedy that they're denying coverage to their policy holders whenever possible. Moore presents striking evidence, both through research and people telling their intensely personal stories, and these facts alone should spark a revolution.

From here, Moore examines the origin of a system that has turned health care from a public service (as in every other industrialised country) into a for-profit business. He traces government action and inaction, from Nixon's creation of HMOs in the 1970s to Clinton's war with the American Medical Association over universal health care in the 1990s. And it's fairly clear that the medical industry has bought the US presidency and Congress. The result is that the USA is 37th in the world for health care, with infant mortality and average life-spans worse than many third world countries.

Moore doesn't appear on-screen until about halfway in, to take us on a tour of countries with socialised medicine. In Canada, France, the UK and Cuba, he finds a situation that baldly contradicts AMA propaganda. Sure, these systems aren't as perfect as Moore presents them to be, but the fact remains that these countries have universal, free care as a basic human right. And the residents live longer. Criticise Moore for his editorialising, but don't miss his urgent message.

Moore's genius as a filmmaker is to find people willing to tell their stories on camera. They put a face to the situation that simply can't be denied, drawing out emotions and righteous indignation. His recurring, valid question is: Why isn't health care a public service like schools, police and the fire department, like it is in all developed nations except the USA? This is an engaging, extremely well shot and edited film that draws on humour and irony to stir simple outrage at evil corporations that are, literally, letting thousands of Americans die each year.

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