The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Movie Review:
SiCKO

Jul 2, 2007

SiCKO, Michael Moore’s latest documentary, exposes aspects of the train-wreck that is the U.S. healthcare system. It’s a good starting point for further discussion.

The focus of this film is the problem faced by people who work and who HAVE health insurance. People tell their own stories and the movie goes from one shocking example to another. Some are humorous, showing how ridiculous healthcare companies get when grasping at straws to avoid paying for care.

Some describe financial ruin. Others tell of family members who died because their insurance company would not authorize treatment.

Any question of whether people are only just “falling through the cracks” is dispelled by whistle blowers. An insurance industry doctor explains financial incentives she received for denying care. A tearful insurance worker explains the stress of having to mislead callers who have no chance of getting health insurance.

This film exposes the bosses’ lie that the health insurance coverage workers receive in this country is “too generous” and needs to be cut back further. The film shows a retired couple who end up living in their daughter’s basement when the “co-pays” and “employee’s share of cost” rack up and put them in bankruptcy.

The second half of the film takes viewers on a trip to other countries which have universal healthcare. The accessibility of healthcare in Great Britain, Canada or France elicited gasps of surprise from audience members.

There is also a trip to Cuba in the film where September 11th rescue workers without health insurance are finally able to get the care they were denied in this country.

Certainly people in Canada, Great Britain, France and Cuba face problems with their healthcare systems. Yet compared to the nightmare here for the uninsured or even the insured, coverage in those countries can seem amazing.

The film shows footage of a few recent demonstrations in France, saying quickly that to get a social safety net and to keep a social safety net takes demonstrations. But the broad history of workers’ struggles and social struggles that it took to get social programs in all of these counties isn’t explained.

Michael Moore’s film does a good job of showing the victims of the capitalist system. But the possibility that those victims, once more, will make a fight to turn their situation around is not even hinted at in the film. It is up to workers who are fed up with the lack of decent medical care and all the other ills created by capitalism to bring it into being.