The documentary film ‘Sicko’ produced by Michael Moore is worth to watch. It’s not about the medical industry itself, like one would assume when they hear the title or see the movie poster. It’s actually pertaining the politic of for-profit health insurance and pharmaceutical industries in the US.

Having worked in the health industry myself for only two and a half years, I’ve seen enough to know how tricky the world of health insurance is. I’ve seen letters from insurance carriers with the big bold DENIED to our doctors. Then our nurse had to call the patient and give them the bad news  that the medication advised by our doctors was denied by their own insurance company.

I’ve heard [and witnessed] how frustrated our patients were; knowing that a slight chance of hope to do a procedure/test to investigate their medical concern was shattered because the insurance company isn’t going to pay their coverage. Some examples from the movie ‘Sicko’:

  • Doug Noe’s insurance provider, Cigna Healthcare, approved a cochlear ear implant for only the left ear of Noe’s toddler daughter, Annette, who was born with an acute hearing disability. Cigna argued that a two-ear operation was “experimental.” (After Noe alerted Cigna that Moore was making a movie about the US Healthcare system, and that Noe’s case would be featured in it, Noe was contacted by Cigna, and they agreed to approve the second implant. This occurred before Moore had actually heard of Noe’s case, so Noe acted independently of Moore.)
  • A woman gets stuck with the ambulance bill after a car accident because she didn’t clear the charge with her insurer before requesting the ambulance; the accident had immediately rendered her unconscious and unable to request approval.
  • Also shown is the widow of Tracy Pierce, who died from kidney cancer after his insurer denied numerous treatments recommended by his doctor, including a possibly life-saving bone-marrow transplant.
  • Rick accidentally sawed off the tops of his middle and ring fingers on one hand while working at home. He had no insurance and limited funds at his disposal, so he was asked by the hospital to choose whether to have the hospital reattach the end of his middle finger for $60,000 or the end of his ring finger for $12,000. (He chose the ring finger, “being the hopeless romantic he is“.)

BUT… Michael Moore wasn’t totally fair with ‘Sicko’. From my understanding, the ‘moral’ of this documentation is to question all of us of why don’t we go with the universal health care coverage instead? The thing is, just to have a health insurance won’t solve the problem. Granted that your paycheck got cut for health insurance, they’re still denying their member’s claim as hard as they could.

Moore did an exclusice interview with a GP (General Practitioner) in Britain and ‘praised’ on how well their universal health care coverage is; but he fails to let the audience know some facts. Like for instance, Britain’s Department of Health reported in 2006 that at any given time, nearly 900,000 Britons are waiting for admission to National Health Service hospitals, and shortages force the cancellation of more than 50,000 operations each year.

All in all, ‘Sicko’ meant well. Just goes to show, that there are people out there who’s making profit of things that are considered important to us. Like our health, for instance.