Sunday, November 25, 2007

I wished I'd have blogged my feelings about American health care before I watched Michael Moore's Sicko. That way I would remembered all the reasons I've believed America's health care system, though flawed, worked best. Afterall, I have good medical coverage. As much as I hate to admit it, this movie changed my views somewhat.

Some of Michael Moore's belittling style bugs me, and I certainly do not buy into his political agenda. I found the 20 minutes I watched of his Fahrenheit 911 to be much too long. However, Sicko brought home to me price we pay against humanity in our own country.

Why would Canadians need to purchase medical insurance before entering the U.S.?
Why would Americans need to fake Canadian residence to get medical care?

How could insurance company employees who deny life saving procedures sleep at night?

How is it that we provide better health care for terrorist inmates imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay than 911 heroes?
Why would Cuba medically treat those same 911 heroes for free?
How can a $120 medicine be dispensed for 5 cents in Cuba?

What happens to an American homeless person when she has nowhere to go to recover from wounds or illness?

How can American mothers with full health coverage lose children due to refusal to treat because the family rushed to the "wrong" hospital in their city?

A few thoughts I had during the movie
A hospital is not a family and cannot pretend to be one for homeless people. What should happen when someone has been treated and needs to be released into some one's care? Hospitals dumping them out on the street is not right, but what is?

Michael did not bring up the care for the elderly or homeless in Europe. Does one need an address to be treated? He didn't show examples of working class Europeans struggling. Why are the English so infamous for bad teeth if dental is free?

Michael failed to mention Cuba's human rights violations- which may be an unwelcome trade off for free medical.

Some things the movie did not explore enough which I'd like to know more about
Doesn't most cutting edge medical technology come from the U.S.? And don't countries with socialized medicine benefit greatly from our costly technology? Wouldn't socialized medicine in the U.S. gut new advances gained by a capitalistic approach to medicine? Seriously.

Any responses to these question from you? Comments welcome.


unquenchableworshipper said...

Ok. This will be shorter than I would the home skulin 2 due.
The reason Cuba provided that excellent care is because Mr Moore was providing them an opportunity to embarass the U.S. government. I am certain that if those same people arrived on Cuba's shores in a raft, they would not have been treated as well.
I also have to wonder how many of the people in the movie had a chance to buy insurance BEFORE they had a catastrophic illness, but chose not to. Which leads me to my main thought.
Where is the CHURCH in this issue? It is not the government's calling provide for the widow and the orphan, it is the church's.
Not that the church should run the health care system, but should be there to catch those who truly are in need.
I know that didn't seem short.. gotta go get some cereal for the Pooh Bear.


truevyne said...

Yep, I understood that about Cuba, but none-the-less, they still treated the 911 heroes.
I bet many people didn't plan to lose their insurance, because they got sick. They probably believed, like you or I, that they'd work till retirement, but could not due to illness. Could be they didn't buy insurance when they could have, but it doesn't mean they should not be treated for things caused by their civil duty.
Like your thoughts as usual. And I hope you get to watch the movie.

Finn said...

I work in the British NHS as a staff nurse, so I can answer several of your questions regarding our health care.

Dental care is free for children in the UK, not adults. Our 'reputation' for bad teeth is more an American phenomena than a worldwide one. However, the government has mismanaged dental care since semi-privatising it in the 40s-50s. Remuneration for dentists is a complex and arcane process that I have no time or desire to go into here. Suffice to say that through poor foresight, recruitment, training and financial thinking dental care is not as good as it might be.

Care of the homeless in the UK is free. However, getting people off the street is as much a problem here as anywhere. It's a truism that some people would rather be on the street than part of society, but there is much more to it than that.

The working classes receive free medical care here. There is no need to struggle, although there is often a need for patience.

Saying that most cutting edge medical technology comes from the US is a specious argument. First, most technology is developed by private companies. These companies have no real national alliance - they go where its best to go. For instance, most of the major pharmaceutical companies conduct research and business in the UK because we make it comfortable for them to do so. Profitable.

Second, the reason research is possible in the US is that 1) the health system reaps vast sums of money through insurance whilst giving very little back 2) the US health system focuses on the wealthy. The wealthy demand high quality care and they can pay for it, so they do 3)the US has a vibrant economy. That economy supplies cutting edge technology - from silicon valley, for instance - that would be less available in Britain. That has nothing to do with the health system, but the health system benefits.

Third, the technological advances made in the US are not available to the poor in the US. What's the point of technology that benefits only some of the population? Is that a good thing? That expensive technology is bought by governments with socialist systems, which try to give it to everybody. They can't because it's too expensive. Slowly, this bankrupts the socialist system. Is that good? Is that fair?

Fourth, there is a great deal of good medical research being conducted outside the US. Many breakthroughs have been made in the UK.

As for a hospital not being a family... actually, I disagree with this, but only in a broad way. In my opinion a hospital should be part of a community and that community should function as an extended family. The fact society does not work that way is a failing of society. Early Victorian hospitals in the UK worked with the community and staff were acknowledged as precious, integral parts of that community. No longer. If you look at the work of people like Patch Adams you find they focus heavily on a sense of community and trust. Objectivity and professionalism are necessary to health workers, but too much distance breeds negligence and distrust.

Finn said...

I should say that my original comment is an overview and not a definitive answer. There are many factors I've neglected to mention or brushed over.

One thing I would like to mention is need. The American system creates a vacuum by failing to provide for so many. That means people who care have to be inventive in order to provide for the needy. It's interesting that this pressure to invent, adapt, can generate truly remarkable schemes that would not exist in a socialist system. The same thing happened in Britain during the Victorian era.

Whether that is a good thing, however, really depends on how callous you are. One can make the argument that Hitler's medical and technological experiments were justifiable because they led to most of the benefits we now enjoy. Yet few people would agree... it's possible to extend this to the American health system - is it morally acceptable for the world to benefit from so much pain?

truevyne said...

Finn, great thoughts! I will have to spend more time mulling over your input. Thank you~