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Ineffective and Corrupt Healthcare Exposed in Sicko

  • Annabelle Robertson Contributing Writer
  • Updated May 06, 2013
Ineffective and Corrupt Healthcare Exposed in <i>Sicko</i>

DVD Release Date:  November 6, 2007
Theatrical Release Date:  June 29, 2007
Rating:  PG-13 (for brief strong language)
Genre:  Documentary
Run Time:  113 min.
Director:  Michael Moore
Actors:  Michael Moore

To my immense surprise, he had me at “hello.”  After all, even though Sicko is a Michael Moore film, it’s pretty hard to watch a man sewing up his own leg or listen to someone describe how he chose between severed fingers, due to the cost.  And those were the people who didn’t have healthcare.  The real horrors came from those who did.

But then he went and called Hilary Clinton “sexy.”  That’s when I knew something was off.

Don’t get me wrong.  Moore makes a point with his newest movie—a devastating one, and one that we’d be fools not to heed.  In case we didn’t already know, he shows us, in living color, that the American healthcare system has become inaccessible, ineffective and frighteningly corrupt.  Americans aren’t even taking care of themselves, much less others.  And if we don’t do something soon, we’re all going to pay the price.

Overall, Sicko is very entertaining filmmaking, without the annoyance factor.  This time, Moore doesn’t shove mics into unsuspecting faces, merely for shock value.  He doesn’t ambush any politicians or CEOs, and for once you almost wish he would.  Save for a few footage cameos of President Bush and a crying politician (who for some reason keeps ranting about how much he loves his mother), he is remarkably restrained.  Sure, Moore’s still front and center with his “golly gee whiz” and baseball cap act—not to mention a show-off boat trip to Guantanamo Bay, where he screams at military guards from a bullhorn.  But this time, he’s training his cameras on the victims.  And unless you have a rock-hard heart, you can’t help but be moved.

We meet numerous families who have toiled under the umbrella of insurance for years, only to be dropped or refused life-saving care when they needed it most.  Most disturbing of all are the interviews with the 9/11 rescue workers who became sick from inhaling fumes at Ground Zero.  Because of various technicalities, they’ve been refused healthcare by the City of New York.  The stories are legion.  Almost everyone has a healthcare horror story of their own, in fact—if not several.  So it will come as no surprise to most.  It’s just depressing to hear that it’s happening in such large numbers, and with so much regularity.

Moore, who can barely contain his adulation as he gazes upon a statue of Karl Marx, then presents his solution to these problems:  socialized medicine.  To argue his case, he interviews Che Guevara’s daughter, a Marxist-quoting French doctor and Tony Benn, a former Labour Party politician who is a strident advocate for communism.

I’ve lived in Canada, England and France—the three countries that Moore extols as healthcare utopias, along with Cuba.  Yes, Cuba.  The place that my Miami Cuban friends describe as Hell.  Oh, wait, that’s Moore, mocking us (with flames around a map of the country) for thinking that one of Amnesty International’s top human rights violators could actually be a bad place.  Silly us!  We’ve just bought into government propaganda. For 45 years.  So what if Cubans can’t get jobs, food or housing?  They have wonderful, free healthcare!  Well, sort of.  Even Castro brought in a Spanish doctor for himself, after all.

There are other oversights.  Everyone I know in England, including my parents (who have lived there since 1989), has private insurance, in addition to their NHS plan.  It’s a two-tier system that serves the elite far better than the poor. And while Moore did manage to find a newly-renovated hospital in Hammersmith, every hospital I ever visited made me feel like I was in a World War II movie—iron beds and fading green paint included.

On the other hand, I had excellent medical care during my three years in Canada, where I didn’t need private insurance (as a foreigner, I did have to pay a small monthly premium).  Then again, I was 27 years old and in great health—like all the Canadians Moore interviews.  Also, along with everyone else in that country, I paid the heavy 14 percent sales tax on every item purchased—not just food and clothing but also cars and even houses.  Nevertheless, Canada’s healthcare still had its problems—namely long wait times for procedures, which Moore ignores completely.  And unlike England, Canada is still in the early years of its system.  It takes time for the system to break down—kind of like Social Security in this country.

I don’t have the answers to the overwhelming conundrum we’re facing, but you only need the skills of a kindergartner to do the math.  Too many people plus too many illnesses minus not enough money does not equal good healthcare for everyone.  That’s why they hold lotteries in Canada—something Moore also neglects to mention. 

Something definitely needs to be done about this problem, however.  And anyone who considers himself a Christian had better start doing it, otherwise the term “compassionate conservative” will soon become an oxymoron.


  • “Sicko” Goes to Washington
  • This Country Beats France
  • Uniquely American
  • What if You Worked for G.E. in France?
  • Sister Mary Fidel
  • Who Would Jesus Deny?
  • More with Mike & Tony Benn
  • A Different Kind of Hollywood Premiere
  • “Alone without You” Music Video
  • Interview Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer


  • Drugs/Alcohol:  References to prescription drugs only.  People are briefly shown smoking in several scenes.
  • Language/Profanity:  A few strong, but brief, profanities in several scenes.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  None. 
  • Violence:  Man is shown sewing up a huge gash on his leg, presumably without the use of antibiotics.  Another man shows a healed, severed finger.  Multiple references to accidents, illnesses and diseases—some of which lead to death.