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Scene from the film "SiCKO"

SiCKO is a 2007 schlockumentary by American filmmaker Michael Moore which uses the health care debate to critique the economic system of America (see free market economics). Moore unfavorably compares the American health care system to various other countries' systems of universal health care.

The biggest weakness of the film is Moore's one-sided analysis. He emphasizes the bad points of American health care and the good points of the alternatives. His portrayal of health care in Cuba is a complete whitewash.

The film also inaccurately portrays the British National Health Service (NHS) as free; it is paid for by UK citizens in the form of National Insurance (an income based tax). Although the majority of NHS care is free at the point of service there is nominal charge for drug prescriptions (£7.10 regardless of the real cost of the drug),[1] dental charges are £16.20, £44.60 or £198 per course of treatment.[2] None of these charges apply if you are pregnant, under 16, over 60, in full-time education or living on benefits.[3]

The film has generated some controversy for a sequence in which Moore brings a group of patients to Cuba, which may have violated the American embargo of that country. The film is designed to have a political impact, but both Republican and Democratic politicians have distanced themselves from it.[4]


The film has a 93% "Fresh" rating at RottenTomatoes.[5]

Peter Barry Chowka at American Thinker says "Sicko" is "a naked propaganda exercise on behalf of full-bore socialism.[6]

David Asman of Fox News says the film "keeps getting praise, even though some of it just isn't true—like his suggestion that Cubans get better heath care than we do".[7]

Roger Friedman of Fox News called the film a "brilliant and uplifting new documentary" and praised Moore for the way in which he lets "very articulate average Americans tell their personal horror stories at the hands of insurance companies" and "criticizes both Democrats and Republicans for their inaction and in some cases their willingness to be bribed by pharmaceutical companies and insurance carriers."[8]

In his review of the film, Mark Kermode of BBC radio five recalled that during the Cannes Film Festival screening of the film, several British audience members started laughing at Moore's overly positive portrayal of the NHS.

Embargo Investigation

The production of SiCKO has brought about a controversy concerning Moore's adherence to the United States broad trade embargo imposed against Cuba since 1962. A United States Treasury Department letter implied that Moore did not receive authorization before traveling to Cuba to film his documentary; this would be in direct conflict with the embargo's rules.[9] Moore is now facing a U.S. government probe on the legality of the Cuba trip.[10] He has hired an elite Washington attorney, David Boies, to represent him in the matter, and states, "I have broken no laws, and I have nothing to hide.”[11]

Criticisms of Sicko

Kurt Loder of MTV news alleged:

"Michael Moore may see himself as working in the tradition of such crusading muckrakers of the last century as Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell and Upton Sinclair — writers whose dedication to exposing corruption and social injustices played a part in sparking much-needed reforms. In his new movie, "Sicko," Moore focuses on the U.S. health-care industry — a juicy target — and he casts a shocking light on some of the people it's failed.

Unfortunately, Moore is also suspected of being selective with the truth, and never more so than in this film. His cherry-picked facts, manipulative interviews (with lingering close-ups of distraught people breaking down in tears) and blithe assertions (how does he know 18,000* people will die this year because they have no health insurance?) are so stacked that you can feel his whole argument sliding sideways as the picture unspools. The American health-care system is in urgent need of reform, no question. Some 47 million people are uninsured (although many are only temporarily so, being either in-between jobs or young enough not to feel a pressing need to buy health insurance). There are a number of proposals as to what might be done to correct this situation. Moore has no use for any of them, save one.

As a proud Socialist, the director appears to feel that there are few problems in life that can't be solved by government regulation (that would be the same government that's already given us the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Motor Vehicles). In the case of health care, though, Americans have never been keen on socialized medicine.[12]

In his review of the film, Mark Kermode of BBC radio five recalled that during the Cannes Film Festival screening of the film, several British audience members started laughing at Moore's overly positive portrayal of the NHS.


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  3. [3]