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Movie examines US healthcare system

9th July 2007

Michael Moore’s Sicko is disturbing in the way it tries to show how America’s healthcare system fails even those who think they have a comfortable place within it.

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There is a man of 79 loading a trash-compacter to pay for his wife’s prescription drugs; a health insurer who told Congress that employees were promoted for their resistance to approving necessary procedures; and several workers who worked at Ground Zero after the attacks of September 11 and now suffer ailments.

Moore believes the rescue workers would be better off in Canada, Britain or France, ending the film with a stunt - taking them for treatment in a hospital in Cuba.

The movie is not communist propaganda, but a playful homage to communist propaganda with clips from old Soviet films full of peasants harvesting grain.

It shows the US healthcare system as being illogical. Corporations get tax deductions for insuring workers, but the self-insured are not entitled to it; the indigent get charged more for hospital stays than the insured; pharmaceutical companies can pay doctors for drug endorsements.

In Sicko, which follows his anti-Bush documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore does make some constructive points but it is difficult to isolate these amid the omissions, inconsistencies and preaching. His goal is not to break through to those who do not agree with him but to drown out the doubts of those who do.

Those who watch Sicko without a broad knowledge of the US healthcare system will leave with a shallower understanding of the crisis than the one they arrived with.

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