Sicko – Michael Moore Essay

Sicko is a 2007 documentary produced, written and directed by the American filmmaker Michael Moore. The film investigates the United States health cares system, focusing primarily on health insurance and the pharmaceutical industry. Moore does not in fact pose questions as to how America should reform its health care however it does suggest many solutions. Michael Moore depicts the American health care system as one that contains many flaws. He goes on to show different people who have not been able to afford the ridiculous sum of money to perform certain procedures.

While scrutinizing the American health care system Michael ventures to Canada, France, Cuba and Great Britain in an attempt to compare health insurance and pharmaceuticals. The audience is invited to believe that America has the worst health care out of all five countries. Through this documentary film Moore suggests the causes for this predicament blaming the government for accepting bribes. Using the voices of different members of major insurers he is able to paint viewers a picture of the devastation people face.

Moore uses unbalanced arguments and evidence to convincingly impose his biased opinion upon his audience. This is seen through a majority of Sicko. Moore positively portrays the health care systems of other countries, produces incorrect information and does not declare laws that have been put in place; he also uses editing techniques to show false images. Michael Moore sugar coats the Canadian health care system by not mentioning to viewers the long waiting lists and even cancelations of lifesaving surgery. There are even waiting lists to get on waiting lists.

Due to this, Timely Medical Alternatives is a thriving business that specializes in transporting Canadians, who don’t want to wait for medical care, to Buffalo. Moore also fails to mention that there is a law prohibiting Canadian citizens from paying for urgently needed medical treatments or from obtaining private health care. However they are able to obtain health insurance for pets “This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years” (Wall Street Journal) The French are said to and did have free health care, unlimited number of ick days and by law, are only allow to work for 35 hours a week. Moore goes on to show a man who has had an operation and 3 months of paid sick leave. As he is not ready to go back to work his doctor writes him a note and he is able to get another 3 months paid sick leave. Moore shows him lounging in the South of France on a very expensive holiday. What this documentary did not show audiences is that the French could not afford this and in 2004 the French Health Minister told the government that the health system has gone mad and is in urgent need of reform.

The French health care has a shortage of $2. 7 billion. There is no doubt that Cuba contains some world class medical facilities and this is seen through the treatment of the 9/11 rescue workers. The audience is persuaded that Cuba possesses better medical facilities than America. Nowhere does the documentary maker mention the flourishing Cuban industry of “health tourism”. A system in which foreigners who are willing to pay cash for anything from brain-surgery to dental work can purchase a level of treatment that’s unavailable to the majority of the Cubans with no hard currency at their disposal. Cubans should be treated the same as foreigners. Cubans have fewer rights in their own country than foreigners who visit here” (Doctor Hilda Molina). Even when Fidel Castro, the Cuban political leader, became gravely ill he had a specialist flown in from Spain instead of putting himself in the hands of a Cuban surgeon. It is even suggested that terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, receive better care than some Americans. It is not difficult to see that Moore does not give viewers the full picture, keeping statistics and figures off the screen.

The facts of tax burden in France and Britain are undeniable; nevertheless the amount of tax paid is not stated. In the USA people do not pay nearly as much tax as in France and Britain. As well as tax burden, life expectancy rates in the US are not actually revealed and yet they are compared with the other 3 countries. America supposedly has the lowest life expectancy out of all 4 countries and yet Cuba is virtually tied with the USA. The audience is persuaded to believe that 50 million Americans are without health insurance; this combines together citizens and non-citizens.

The Americans who do have health care are said to be paying $7000 per person per year, whereas according to the World Health Organization health care costs $6100 per person per year. Pieces of film that were taken from the 1980’s to 1990’s are cleverly edited to produce segments presenting many gripping stories. Doctor Linda Peeno, a medical reviewer for the giant HMO Humana, declared in 1996, her job was to deny as many claims as possible. This film is not a documentary but an ‘editorial’ as yet again Moore incorporates a man who was denied coverage for a heart transplant in 1987.

Many cinematic techniques have been used to show pictures, such as of Billy Tauzin, an American lobbyist and politician, clutching a $2 million check from his employer, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. This imagery is used to position viewers to accept the film as presenting the truth. During one of the scenes Moore discusses an advertisement asking citizens of America to send in issues they have had with the health care system. What is supposed to be a computer screen is shown as he receives thousands of emails regarding health care.

The computer is never shown and neither is anything but the inbox which concludes that he may have a made-up email to make it look as though he has hundreds if not thousands of emails. Michael Moore’s film Sicko is laden with heavy bais using successful manipulation of both cinematic techniques and information creating a strong invited reading. Drawing important attention to the corrupt health care system, Moore has sparked debate throughout the US. However despite some truths being relevant, viewers need to be aware of the techniques used, in order to separate fact from fiction.