‘Sick and Sicker’ to Counter Michael Moore Film

Published August 1, 2007

If you go to see Michael Moore’s new film, Sicko, you will probably leave the theater wondering why nobody ever presents the other side of the story.

Most people agree that Moore’s critique of American health care is about right, but his answers are seriously off-base. I mean, c’mon–Cuba should be our model, for Pete’s sake?

Moore’s premise–that over-reliance on third-party payers results in bureaucratic interference in medicine–is sound. But his remedy–to create one colossal Third-Party Payer in the federal government–will only make the existing problems that much worse.

The Consumers for Health Care Choices (CHCC) Foundation has arranged to be the fiscal sponsor for a new movie being produced by Logan Clements that will answer Moore’s charges. Clements is actively filming in Canada right now, exploring the disastrous results of Canada’s system.

Deaths from neglect, two-year waits for basic services, and long waits for critical consultations such as oncology that delay treatment until it is too late are common in Canada. The Canadian Supreme Court actually ruled the Canadian system violates the Canadian Charter because it denies the human right to use one’s own resources to save one’s own life. Many people are dying as a direct result of that system.

Helping Hand

The American people need to know that although our insurance system is flawed and needs a good injection of consumerism and transparency, replacing it with Canada’s approach will make a sick system much sicker. Access to a long waiting list is not access to care.

As fiscal sponsor of the film, the CHCC Foundation can accept tax-deductible contributions to pay for the production of the feature-length movie and ensure Moore’s propaganda is met with a factual examination of the realities of socialized medicine. Any contribution–large, small, or in between–will help complete this important project.

To find out more about the Clements film, Sick and Sicker, visit http://www.sickandsickermovie.com/index.html.

To contribute to its production, visit the CHCC Foundation’s site http://www.chcchoices.org/foundation.html.

HSA Anecdote

An article in the June 10 business section of the Washington Post uses a single anecdote to suggest health savings accounts (HSAs) aren’t great for high-spenders. The story involves a couple in Massachusetts whose traditional premiums went from $910 per month to $1,300 per month when the husband turned 60.

Buying an HSA policy lowered the premium to $950 per month, and they put $5,400 into the HSA. But now they were paying 100 percent of their drug costs–and her asthma medication costs $600 per month–so the HSA savings were quickly depleted.

The anecdote raises more questions than it answers. First, Massachusetts is a warped market for any kind of insurance, but especially individual. Second, the article doesn’t say how much their deductible was, but at $7,200 per year for one medication alone, they must have been pretty close to 100 percent. Third, it doesn’t sound like their insurance carrier was providing much of a premium concession for that kind of deductible.

You have to wonder if that was the only (or best) insurance offering the couple could find. Finally, the wife had no idea how much her meds were costing under her old co-pay program. I would hope she would have started looking for other treatment options once she realized the costs, but the article doesn’t mention any of that.

Difference Makers

It is true these programs add pressure to people with chronic conditions, but that is where system-wide savings are possible. The healthy don’t consume enough to make a difference, and the very high-volume users are too sick to be effective consumers.

It is in this mid-range of spending where people are able to make the behavioral changes to lower costs and also spend enough to make a difference.

Source: “Of Sickness and of Wealth,” by Susan Straight, The Washington Post, June 10, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/09/AR2007060900048.html

Greg Scandlen ([email protected]) is president of Consumers for Health Care Choices in Hagerstown, Maryland.