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Sicko - The Future of American Healthcare

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Author: Dr. Tim Langley

Let me start by saying I've never been a Michael Moore fan. Being a libertarian Conservative all my voting life, I've always been opposed to "Socialized" medicine. However, firsthand experience in the healthcare business for the last 17 years has shown me that our system of health care (much like our tax system and education system) is broken beyond repair.

Michael Moore's latest movie "Sicko" should be a wake-up call for insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry and the AMA. The movie starts out showing what can happen to working class Americans without health insurance, citing the story of a man who cut off the tip of two fingers in a work accident. Because he had no insurance and would be paying cash, he was given the choice of having one fingertip replaced for $12,000 or the other for $60,000. What kind of choice could that possibly be? Of course, he chose to save the less expensive of the two. The movie went on to show the fate of a couple who had worked all their life, bought insurance through their employers. Three heart attacks and a bout of cancer left the couple bankrupt and virtually homeless despite their insurance coverage.

The movie goes on to compare American health care systems and those in Canada, England and France. And while I was somewhat put off by Moore's veiled support of socialism, the viewer can only come to the conclusion that our and their health care systems don't compare very well. Almost any American health care consumer will relate to the hassles of dealing with insurance companies, exclusions and long waits in the Emergency Room and wonder if there isn't a better way. Even respected medical journals report that Americans' have shorter lifespan, higher infant mortality rates and more cancer, heart disease and diabetes than the rest of the industrialized world. The final comparison of the care rendered to Guantanamo detainees and that give to three American volunteers at the 9/11 WTC site.

While one knows that "Sicko" was made with a bias in favor of a universal health care system, Moore makes the valid impression that the system is broken and, like Humpty Dumpty, can't be put back together again. As a healthcare provider, I've dealt firsthand with the Managed Care nonsense. The movie is not far off, at all.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm not a fan of big government solutions to market problems. However, the free market does NOT govern the American health care system. Between the AMA, the pharmaceutical cartel and the insurance industry, access to health care is limited. Not only does that put upward pressure on prices, but lends itself to market manipulation. The higher prices go the more consumers are forced to buy health insurance EVEN with ever-increasing premiums and routine reductions in coverage. It's a spiral that feeds on itself and will eventually lead to collapse.

For those who would say, "We can't afford universal health care", it should be noted that between Medicare and Medicaid we ALREADY have (almost) universal health care. The only group left out of America's government funded health care is a large percentage of the working class and the self-employed. Conservatives should take another look at a single-payer health care system for a variety of reasons. Rising health care costs is a major reason American business is less competitive in the global marketplace. Further, the aging baby boomer generation will soon be eligible for Medicare. When that happens, subsequent generations of Americans will demand either relief from the burden of paying for that extra care OR be included in the system themselves. My guess is that it will be both. The party that resolves THAT problem will probably rule the political roost for decades to come.

Michael Moore has hit the nail on the head. The American health care system is broken. The harder entrenched institutions try to limit the public's access to basic health care, the sooner and more certain will Americans' will demand a dramatic change in the way health care is delivered. The AMA should drop its resistance to alternative and complementary therapies. Pharmaceutical companies should embrace the concept that American citizens should not pay more for their drugs than do citizens of other countries. Finally, the insurance industry should build long-term profitability by finding a way to cover as many Americans as possible, giving them access to any willing provider and open to alternative and complementary health care options. IF the market doesn't resolve this problem, it's an almost certainty the government will.

About the author: Dr. Tim Langley is a chiropractor, economist and business consultant. He lives and practices in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Dr. Langley writes on issues that relate to health, business, personal development, economic development and politics. He is also the developer of "The Membership Practice". You can find out more about Dr. Langley at his web site or through his blog at You can write or visit Dr. Langley at 4343 Shallowford Road #C-2, Marietta, GA 30062.

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