Amongst the many causes that really hit home with me, the deplorable state of the United States health care system is right near the top. No, I'm not among the 45 million or so uninsured Americans who go through their days knowing that a potential health problem could doom them financially, or even cost them their lives. I'm one of the fortunate ones. Since graduating college in 1996, I've had health care coverage for all but about four months. In the late 90s I had a few health scares and, for the most part, these maladies were covered in large part.
That said, around 2000 or so I started to see the darker side of the health industry. I'm not sure if it was my new health care provider(s), or the conditions that I was suffering from, but obtaining reimbursements became increasingly difficult. Most recently, I had to see a doctor for repeated visits. Before doing so, I received pre-approval from my health care provider, Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I was assured that once I met my deductible ($500), I would receive 80% back. After about a year of treatment for this condition, I've now surpassed $2,000 in doctor's bills and I have not received a penny from Blue Cross. I've submitted my claims, yet each time I call I'm given a different reason. This is what I've heard thus far:
"The diagnosis number was wrong." (I double-checked and it was correct.)
"You have not met your deductible." (Lie.)
"This is not covered under your policy." (It was pre-approved.)
"You've been using an out-of-network doctor." (I told Blue Cross this in advance and was told that the the above conditions for being repaid were accurate for out-of-network.)
This list could go on and on. See, this is what the insurance companies do: They hope that you finally give up. And I'm certain that most people do. I didn't. Last week I went to my HR rep. and told her about the difficulties that I was having with Blue Cross. She immediately called our rep. and I've been told that all of my claims are being reprocessed and that I'll be receiving payment soon. Why did they finally cave? Because they don't want to lose our company. These people are the lowest of the low. No wonder they threw so much money to Bush.
Since this is a very important issue to me, I decided to go see Moore's take on the US health care system, "Sicko". I think Moore's previous two films are both solid, especially the well thought-out and balanced "Bowling For Columbine". With "Fahrenheit 911" I also agreed with much of what he was saying, but it was becoming clear that he was telling less of the full picture (whether the other side had any valid rebuttals or not). With "Sicko", he's become more of a case-by-case storyteller than a true documentary filmmaker.
Almost the entire film is spent with downtrodden people who have had terrible experiences with their health care providers. Although my conditions weren't as serious as some of those in the film. I could certainly empathize. Their stories were heartwarming, while at the same time heartbreaking. You had to feel for these people and how this country has failed them. However, Moore left out two keys elements to making this an effective film: 1) There wasn't ONE interview with the other side. He didn't even say that he attempted to speak with executives at the top insurance companies, which leads the viewer to believe that he didn't try and 2) He offered no solutions. Sure, he talked about how great health care is in France, but he didn't for one second draw out how this could be applied in the United States.
I honestly think that Michael Moore is a man of heart and compassion. But with "Sicko" he's lost his focus. He had the perfect opportunity to expose an area of American society that is absolutely despicable. And, for the most part, he failed. Nevertheless, this film is causing people to talk, debate and look at a system that is utterly broken. Although the film failed in many respects, at the very least, it will open up the eyes of Americans, and we can hope, the so-called leaders of this land.