Whatever you may have heard or thought about Michael Moore and his past documentaries, I sincerely URGE you to go see SICKO. I understand so much better now after seeing it how a failed private insurance system puts profit ahead of patients in ways you may not realise.
Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key,
That shall unclasp and set me free.
I remember my children’s pediatrician when we lived in Connecticut. Dr. Ford had a laid-back, easy-going demeanor that was just right for an overly worrying, hovering mother hen type as I was at the time. We chose him because he was recommended by other young parents we knew. I didn’t have to check a private inssurance’s authorized provider list to see if his name was there before I called to make our first appointment with him. Each office visit cost us $8.
A few years later we moved to Ohio where I registered the girls at a Children’s Clinic with several so-called expert child specialists on staff. I’d been warned it might be hard to get them in if they got sick unless they were pre-registered, so I did. Each office visit, they told me, would be $20, but a higher price tag associated with what we assumed would be outstanding health care was still acceptable. There were no insurance companies involved, and we were able to pay the $20.
Somewhere around the same time period I arranged a physician visit for a minor illness of my own. Again I chose a doctor several friends recommended. Besides giving me a same day appointment, Dr. Downey (a General Practitioner) only charged $8 per visit. When blood tests were needed, either he or the staff technician took the sample, and charged me an additional three dollars. In the meantime I was given a prescription, which usually was the magic elixer, and I’d be feeling much better already when the nurse called a few days later to confirm the initial diagnosis, and remind me to finish all the medication.
Around our third visit to the Children’s Clinic, the doctor who handled our case that day, Dr. Adams, gave me a general cussing out almost but not quite as bad as a spitting drill sargeant, telling me it was my fault the youngest was constipated. I wish I could tell you that I spit in his face as I slammed the door on the way out but I didn’t. Instead I agonized over not being a good mother. Eventually some good sense came to me and the next time one of the girls was sick I called Dr. Downey. I worried that I might be making a bad decision, that he wouldn’t be “expert” enough to take care of my children. Around this time I began to notice that some patients were registering with Dr. Downey’s receptionist and announcing that they had such and such insurance. Insurance at this point was still an option; our fees were raised slightly but still reasonable.
A year or two afterwards, the girls still alive after being treated several times by Dr. Downey, I read in the newspaper, way in the back section, that Dr. Adams, formerly of the Children’s Clinic in Columbus, had been convicted of child molestation, stripped of his license to practice medicine, and was then serving a sentence in prison.
Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
Yet when somebody like Michael Moore comes along with his documentary with profiles of several ordinary Americans whose lives have been disrupted, shattered, or worse, ended by a health care catastrophe, many of us shake our heads firmly and say “I’m NOT going to contribute to his one-sided biased attempt to communize the health care in this country!” We simply refuse to hear.
Maybe it’s because some of us think if someone in this great U.S. of A. is still uninsured, it has to be their own fault, yet this crisis doesn’t only affect the 47 million uninsured citizens. It affects millions who thought they were covered, only to get the shaft by large insurance corporations when they were confronted by catastrophic illness. Many lost their homes; many lost their lives or those of their loved ones. It’s all there. Moore’s movie is simply showing us how the health care system got into such a mess in the first place, and why profit for health care is just plain wrong. You may find it hard to believe the ends to which some insurance corporations will go in order to deny your claims for needed treatment.
Doesn’t it make sense that preventive care makes better sense than treating the illness? As our system now stands, it simply isn’t economically feasible for doctors to counsel patients in preventing the health problems in the first place. The sicker you are, or the sicker you get, the more you go to see the doctor, and the more he makes. The more drugs you’re prescribed, the more money the pharmaceutical corporations make.
Many of the negative things we hear about the single pay system, or universal free healthcare, are myths. That’s why Moore visits doctors and clinics in Canada, Great Britain and France, where everyone receives free medical benefits. You hear the story from the mouths of the doctors and the patients who use these clinics.
Open my mouth, and let it bear
Gladly the warm truth ev’rywhere;
I have my own story–insignificant perhaps in light of the far worse problems many millions of Americans are facing–but one that nevertheless made me SAD at first, then made me CRY, but finally made me MAD. For about two years I’ve been under the care of a Reumatologist, going through one round of medicine or another until finally, in December 2006, Enbrel, which is an injection I give myself once a week at home, gave me back my life. I know that sounds trite but anyone who’s been down with this dreaded affliction knows how absolutely devasting it can be. Since May this year we have spend more than $1,000 for my Enbrel, and in three weeks I’ll need to come up with an additional $1000 or more for one month’s supply (this is in addition to what Medicare and the insurance contributes). Under my old insurance plan through the company Hubby worked for, a large part of the cost was offset by insurance, at a time when we had more income than we now have in retirement.
There is another RA treatment, however, that–if I decide to switch–would cost very little. It’s administered by infusion (IV drip) by a doctor or technician in a doctor’s office. Treatment given in the doctor’s office or clinic is completely covered, so the cost to me would be the $25 copay. My doctor is reluctant to switch but is willing to do so if we insist, arguing that the present treatment is working so well, why risk my progress so far by switching? He admits that saving between $5,000 and $7,000 is a good reason to think about it.
I hesitate primarily because the two people I know who are presently taking the infusion treatment feel a marked “let down” several days to a week before their next treatment. Secondly, I have very small, rolling veins and it’s sometimes very painful to get the needle in for the infusion, and I’d have to while away several hours in a clinic. A patient’s choice of treatment should be a matter decided by the doctor and patient, not by a large insurance corporation.
Again, I urge you to see SICKO. Watch it with an open mind, do your own research, and make up your mind. I believe, like me, you may decide that a country that can provide free libraries, free police protection, free fire protection, free schools (all paid for we know by taxes, but it’s there for ALL of us, not just those who can afford it) should be able to figure out a way to provide free health care coverage for all its citizens. Whether or not you agree with everything you see or hear in this movie, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that one of the most important issues for any candidate for election in the next presidential race should be a firm commitment to health care for every American.