Sicko

Early reviews of the movie are coming out. Definitely read Ezra Klein's take on it. And Amanda Marcotte's. Also Mark Hoofnagle. And why Rob does not want to see it.

Perhaps it is my upbringing, but the fact that one has to pay for medical treatment (and/or pay health insurance) was the second most appallingly surprising thing to me when I arrived in the USA (the sincere religiosity of so many natives was the first). After 16 years here, I still cannot really wrap my mind around it. The notion that anyone but doctors, nurses and patients can have a say in medical treatment, or that anyone should make a profit out of people's sickness is, to my mind, so atrocious, right up there with the notion of slavery. Both are extreme examples of trampling over most basic human rights.

I will go and see the movie as soon as I can.

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I'm surprised that anyone ever wants to make a profit from education, academic research, or any other of the publicly subsidized occupations. How about lawyers - the only reason any of them have a job is because we citizens supply the courts, police and jails.

By Beverly Nuckols (not verified) on 30 Jun 2007 #permalink

Are you paying education insurance, science insurance and legal insurance? I don't think so.

Well put, Coturnix! IMHO the absence of universal health insurance in the US operates as a sort of neo-slavery, becuase in the US loosing your job effectively means the loss of medical care not merely for yourself, but also for your family. A future job may well exclude any health care or health car for "preexisting conditions".

The reality of exposing your family (as well as yourself) to the loss of medical care exerts a powerful influence on freedom of speech. In the US, it's risky to get in trouble on the job for anything in anyway controversial which might jeopardize your job and even potentially lead to black listing.

On course, to be fair, you are free to be perfectly candid on any topic as long as you are sure no one, particularly big brother, can hear you -- something getting more difficult in the US with the double whammy of illegal gov. and business and academic snooping and the proliferation of ever more powerful snooping and recording devices.

So, IMHO, universal healthcare is very much a freedom of speech issue.

Tom500k

The Federal laws make medical records vulnerable to snooping by anyone who claims to work under the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. HIPPA, while supposedly protecting privacy, actually allows Federal and State agencies to view anything and everything in the doctor's office, hospital or your insurance records, and for copying of most records.

By Beverly Nuckols (not verified) on 30 Jun 2007 #permalink

I am not sure I trust the views of someone who renders HIPAA "HIPPA"... But perhaps BN could explain to me how the Privacy Rule renders my records available to Federal and State agencies -- assuming they have no stake in my treatment and no legally compelling argument, like the warrant they have always been able to get for such a purpose.

OnTopic: I won't be seeing Moore's movie, even though I agree wholeheartedly with coturnix on healthcare. Moore plays fast and loose with facts, pulls dirty tricks, and generally discredits himself when -- and this is the frustrating part -- he doesn't need to. A straight-up accounting of facts with no theatrics would be much more effective than his usual schtick.

HIPAA, HIPPO, whatever. "The Secretary" - or the same people doing the investigating and making the charges - issue their own subpoenas, not a court, as before. Also, the Act changed the old standard allowing viewing of information to one that allows copying records. While there are benefits to the changes - in the interest of public health or to investigate a bad doctor - these changes are at least as much of a potential threat to patient privacy as the worries about future employers, mentioned above.

By Beverly Nuckols (not verified) on 30 Jun 2007 #permalink

Bora,
Don't be naive; not only do Serbians, Brits, and canadians pay for their "free" health care, you certainly *do* pay "educations insurance", "science insurance", and "legal insurance". As a matter of fact, they keep raising the rates of my education insurance - with more property tax levies all the time.
More than 33% of the total British national budget is for the National health care system - the equivalent of the entire GDP of Ethiopia. If you do the math, that means that the average British tax payer forks out a total of $8,000 US per year each for "free" health care! Of course, that includes the out-of-pocket expenses that are also part of their "free" health care.
And do you really think that in Canada, England, etc. its just doctors and patients making the decisions/ In the UK earlier this year administrators (i.e., bureaucrats appointed by politicians) set up a board where they reviewed doctors' recommendations for hospital treatment and determined if those treatments were financially possible.
National health care plans have accountants and bureaucrats who determine what treatments and drugs are available based on cost to the government. They also set the wages of doctors and nurses artificially low based on the government's budget, not what they are actually worth - is it any surprise so many good doctors go into private practice or come to America? They also limit equipment - all of Canada has 151 MRI machines while the US has more than 10,000. This lack of equipment is what drove a class-action lawsuit in Canada for women with breast cancer: see, they weren't getting the radiation therapy their doctors' referred them for because it was too expensive for the government to have enough machines to provide it. 40% of people in the UK diagnosed with cancer *never* see an oncologist before they die. In the UK 20% of people diagnosed with colon cancer that are also diagnosed as 'recoverable with treatment' wait so long to BEGIN treatment that they are re-diagnosed as 'terminal' when treatments finally begin. The average delay in hip replacement surgery in the US? 8 days. In Canada? 6 months.
And those terrible profits? many of them go to the medical research that no one but American firms are doing. The entire medical research budget of Canada is about $600 million. American spening on medical research is about $100 billion the majority of which is privately funded by, yes, profits from medical providers. American drug companies outspend foreign drug companies 100 fold in research dollars: except for those very, very few UK and German drug firms with US research labs, who are only outspent 8 to 1.
The fact is that the American medical system provides demonstrably better care than the UK or Canadian systems and the total cost per taxpayer is only about 5% more - all while subsidizing world-wide medical research. And the American system also accounts for those people without insurance who cannot pay (remember - American law states that hospitals must provide treatment despite inability or even unwillingness to pay!). Many of those people listed as 'uninsured' in the US are eligible for government health care plans (free or very close to it) and do not apply because they expect to soon be covered by a private or empler-provided plan.