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DVD Review: SiCKO (Special Edition)

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Written by General Jabbo

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore returns with SiCKO, an eye-opening look at the American health care system and all its flaws.

Moore opens the film by declaring that nearly 50 million Americans are without health insurance, but that this film isn’t about them. It is about the other 250 million Americans that do have insurance and the difficulties they go through trying to get the coverage that they paid for.

According to Moore, many people are denied health care because they are too thin, too fat, or have a pre-existing condition. If there is no evidence of a pre-existing condition, many of these companies scour through health care applications to find things that they can deny service for. If they still cannot find a condition, they send in a “hit man,” who tries to get the health care company’s money back. Moore interviews one such “hit man” named Lee, who said the company will go through your records like it is a murder case to find something they can deny you with.

Linda Pino, the former medical director at Humana, testified before Congress that she once denied a man a surgery that would have saved his life and that no one held her accountable for it as she saved the company half a million dollars and that, in their eyes, made her a good medical director.

Moore interviews a man whose daughter was going deaf. She was denied an implant in one ear because her treatment was deemed experimental. It was only when the man took it upon himself to call the health care company and inform them of Moore’s documentary that they decided to approve her claim for both ears.

Moore’s solution is universal health care, like in countries such as Canada, Great Britain, France and even Cuba. Moore attempts to dispel the myth that universal health care leads to long lines, poor coverage, lack of choice of doctors and doctors not being able to practice medicine where they want.

Moore interviews a Michigan woman who was denied treatment in the U.S for her cervical cancer as she got it when she was 22-years-old and, in the eyes of the health care company, was too young to have cervical cancer. She travels to Canada, where she tells the pharmacist she has been living there for three months and is able to get her medicine.

He travels to Great Britain, where he interviews a doctor who works in the NHS system who is very happy where he works. He lives in a million-dollar home and drives an Audi. Hospital stays are free in England and all prescriptions are roughly $10 U.S. and free for people under age 16 and over age 60.

He travels to France, where he learns that all health care is provided by the government, that a government-paid maid will come to the house of a new mother to help with her needs around the house, that all employees get five weeks paid vacation and unlimited sick days and that a man recovering from chemotherapy can get paid time off from work for at least three months.

When a number of 9/11 rescue workers were denied health care in the U.S. because they were contract employees, Moore takes a boat down to Cuba to Guantanamo Bay, as he had learned that the prisoners there were getting full health benefits. He never gets let in, but it leads to an amusing scene where Moore, speaking through a megaphone, asks that these Americans get the same health care treatment that al Qaeda gets. He finally ends up in Cuba where a woman pays five cents for medicine that would have cost her over $100 here.

While Moore presents universal health care in an almost utopian view, there is always a catch to such a lifestyle and Moore does point out that the people in these countries are drowning in taxes. He is merely suggesting that if all these counties can have health care for all their citizens, why can’t we?

The DVD includes over 80 minutes of bonus features, including a session before Congress regarding bill H.R. 676, which would propose universal health care for Americans, an interview with a woman who works for General Electric in France that gets free health care, even though G.E.’s American employees do not and a music video for “Alone Without You” by The Nightwatchman, who is Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave fame.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
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