I don’t have health insurance. A few weeks ago I applied for Blue Cross, and was denied based on “health conditions”. I am totally, completely healthy and disease-free. Confused, I called Blue Cross to find out what they could possibly be referring to. After half an hour on the phone, I finally got a representative who explained to me that there were “claims” against my health on my record. I asked what that meant, and was told that because I had *seen a doctor* in the past 12 months, I was not eligible for coverage — the “claims” were from a doctor filing a report that he’d seen me and prescribed nasal spray for my irritated sinuses. So because I saw a doctor, I was declined coverage, period. No appeal. Incidentally, I’ve spent the past two weeks in a depressed and fatalistic funk.
So it’s with great personal interest that I read this Reuters piece about Michael Moore’s new film, “Sicko” an incisive diagnosis of U.S. health care. Especially since the US government is trying to impound the negative. Snip from Reuters:
“Sicko” undoubtedly will follow his previous docus in attracting wide viewership from audiences normally not attuned to the docu experience, so boxoffice should be considerable in North America. While the discussion is, as always with Moore, a uniquely American one, audiences in Europe and other markets will want to eavesdrop for the sheer fun of seeing Americans wallow in problems they solved years ago.
The movie begins with horror stories. So much so that Moore is not always able to lighten things up with his usual brand of comedy. But he does manage some sick humor as he recounts the travails not only of the 47 million uninsured Americans but also of those who think they have health insurance, paid for with years of premiums, only to be denied a medical procedure they desperately need.
He traces this tragic situation back to an Oval Office deal cooked up by President Nixon — caught on the infamous White House tapes — to foist managed health care on the unsuspecting public. Nixon loves it because it’s not some do-good government program. “It’s for profit,” he enthuses.
Indeed it is. Tales unravel about how a successful medical claim is called a “medical loss” by the insurance industry and how denying claims can lead to promotions in that industry. The film details how the health industry spent more than $100 million to defeat President Clinton’s universal health care package and currently maintains four D.C. lobbyists for every member of Congress.
Moore’s final trip abroad is the one that made headlines recently with the news that the U.S. Treasury Department is investigating him for possible violations of the U.S. trade embargo restricting travel to Cuba. Yes, Moore did take several of the sick people he visited earlier in the film to Cuba, including rescue workers suffering from the effects of working at Ground Zero yet denied necessary care by the government. And in the poverty-stricken land of Fidel Castro, they get state-of-the-art diagnostic services, treatment programs and, in one case, a five-cent drug that would cost $120 in the U.S.
Now, here’s more on that last bit in the Guardian UK, snip:
In March, Moore travelled to the Caribbean island with a group of emergency workers from New York’s Ground Zero to see whether they would receive better care under the Castro regime than they had under George Bush. He had applied for permission to travel in October 2006 and received no reply.
In a letter dated May 2, the treasury department notified Moore that it was investigating him for unlicensed travel to Cuba, or, as the missive put it, engaging in “travel-related transactions involving Cuba.”
Now team Moore is hitting back. Weinstein has hired an attorney, David Boies, who has lodged a request under the US freedom of information act to find out what motivated the treasury to begin its investigation. “They have to tell us why they did it and what they did,” said Weinstein. “And they are not too happy about it.”