Thursday, January 29, 2009

Post Script on Sicko Class

I mentioned last week that our Medical Billing class instructor had us start watching Michael Moore's movie, Sicko. I. Was. Not. Pleased.

Monday night, she had us finish watching the movie, which went to the medical utopias of Canada, the UK, Cuba, and France, all places where medical care is "free." As opposed to America, where the insurance and pharmaceutical companies will suck your savings dry and force you in your not-quite-old age to move into the spare bedroom of one of your children.

To prove how wonderful these places are, in Canada Moore emphasized the freeness of their medical system and how kind the country is to take care of each other. He failed to mention how, in 2003, Toronto (thanks to their free healthcare) had an outbreak of SARS, followed by a second outbreak, due to unrecognized cases of SARS the first time around. No other non-Asian parts of the world had this level of outbreak, and I remember reading articles (that I can't find now) at the time that criticized Toronto's sub-par level of medical care and blamed it for the spread of the disease there.

Moore asked Canadians about their wait time at the medical clinic, and they said it was never more than 20 minutes to an hour. They must live in an unusual part of Canada, because this 2004 column by Walter Williams cites reports showing increasing wait times in Canada for procedures, up from 16.5 weeks in 2001 -2002 to 17.7 weeks in 2003. Somehow, Michael Moore didn't find any of those people to talk to.

The one that really got to me, though, was France. He talked about the "free" healthcare and interviewed a "typical" French couple who lived well, just to prove that they aren't taxed to death to pay for their healthcare system and how they get up to a year of maternity leave, half of it paid, and 5 weeks of paid vacation (plus an extra week for a honeymoon if they get married that year) and how that's mandated by the national French government.

He also talked to American ex-pats about the "free" college education they could get in France, and it made it sound like France is the best place on earth.

But he didn't discuss the "disaffected youths" who can't get a job, because employers are hesitant to hire anyone without experience. If they hire someone who turns out not to want to do the work he was hired to do, they can't fire the deadbeats. It's all mandated by law.

And he didn't discuss the educational system that decides whether or not you're allowed to go to college. I described that this way in one of my posts from 2005:

The school system in France (and presumably most of Western Europe) is rigidly structured. At a certain point in the educational process--about the equivalent of late grade school/early middle school here--students are evaluated and assigned to an educational path. One path leads to working class jobs, and the other path leads to college and professional jobs. Once you're placed on your path (you and your family have NO input on the decision), you are stuck there forever. Working class students cannot go to college.

Ever. Even if you were a late bloomer or a closet smart-kid.

It's really nice that America's young people can go to college in France on the French companies' franc (I guess it's a Euro now), which I presume is where the funding for all the free stuff is coming from. But there's no telling how long all the government largesse will continue, with the economy in France on the skids like everywhere else.

Michael Moore had a comment about how powerful the people of France are, compared to America. In France, when the people protest, the government is afraid, and they give the people what they want. In America, according to Moore, it's the people who are afraid of the government. He wants us to be more like France. Mob rule... Yeah, that sounds appealing....

I told my instructor, after class, about the French school system, and she agreed that maybe, just maybe, Michael Moore did a bit of picking and choosing to present a slanted view of things, both here and abroad.

It's a shame, really, that she had us watch that movie, because yesterday morning in class, one of the other students made some comments that sounded discouraged about trying to learn a career that will help the despicable insurance companies. It's counterproductive for our instructor fill us with that kind of despair without offering another perspective.

Good thing I didn't take that stupid movie to heart.


janice said...

Maybe, just maybe, you could talk the instructor into presenting an alternate view of the healthcare system in America.

I'm also glad you didn't take the movie to heart.

Tsofah said...

Maybe the instructor should share a disclaimer on the movie, and pass out articles like the ones you have. Otherwise she is using one person's skewed view to dictate to the class what they should think. You know, kinda like France would do..;-/

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

It's "Michael Moore", for goodness sake...what more disclaimer is needed?