Sicko: endorsement and counter

I received an email from my good friend Tom regarding the new movie Sicko.

John,

I watched Sicko earlier today; it was really illuminating (and sad). Have you heard of it? It’s Michael Moore’s new piece about the health care industry in the US.

Yes, I know how you feel about him. Yes, he uses a lot of his usual antics and rhetoric. Yes, you will likely find some and perhaps even most of them irritating.

With all of that said, there is a one big shock: for the most part he is fair and non-partisan, perhaps for the first time ever. He mostly avoids partisan issues, choosing to focus his attention elsewhere, but, being Moore, he of course can’t resist a few digs, especially against politicians bought too easily (and cheaply) by lobbyists. But, believe it or not, one of those receiving the harshest smack-down is his previously beloved Hillary. Apparently, hell has frozen over. Or maybe Moore has finally sobered up and looked around. (I confess while finding Hillary irritating and irksome at times, I once admired certain aspects of her platform long ago– especially regarding health care reform– but I feel she has long since lost her way).

The movie unabashedly makes a case for socialized health care, so you deserve to know that in advance, since I have gathered you are opposed to it. With that said, I hope you might be willing to watch the movie regardless. If nothing else, it pays to know what your enemies are up to.

The movie opens next Friday, and I am seriously considering footing the bill for anyone who wants to see it.*

I will likely see it and you are invited, although I suspect your interest might be limited because it’s a Moore film. If so, I cannot entirely fault you for that–his usual antics are on full display, and while I find a lot of his orneriness amusing, I well understand you and many others find his antics (and him) obnoxious. These days, I think many perceive Moore as more of an entertainer that panders to the left than as a bona fide journalist. I would, in fact, largely agree with this assessment.

Consequently, in many ways I wish someone else had made this film, because the issues it raises are important for everyone, regardless of which way a person leans politically. The whole nation needs to be having some sort of dialogue about these issues, and Moore is so thoroughly branded as a left-winger (or maybe even as a left-wingnut?) that I think the fact his name is attached to the movie will just polarize the issue politically, which would be a shame. Health care reform deserves bipartisan discussion and support–as a nation, we have got to transcend political differences on this issue. I can tell you firsthand that the current system destroys families and lives in a brutal and vicious way.

Too many people will miss this documentary because of who made it, and that is a shame and makes me wish almost anyone else had filmed it. But, with that said, I am glad that at least someone made this movie, even if it had to be done by Moore.

My reply:

One of the earliest free health care demagogues was Huey Long. Louisiana used to have charity hospitals all over the state, with 14 in New Orleans alone. During the last oil boom of the ’70s (during stagflation for the rest of the country) Louisiana was hopping. Without fail following an increase in oil prices Louisiana would elect a Huey Long style populist that demanded more money for charity hospitals. Even before Katrina the charity hospitals in Louisiana had conditions that were similar to that of the VA system in Washington D.C.

Now, the new populism advocates not for free health care (the results of which is plain to see in Sicko), but free health insurance for all. Somehow this will equate to Doctors not making mistakes or shortening ER lines.

If some health care socialization bill passes I’ll be ok, I can always bolt-hole to Taiwan. They have universal health care, but not the entitlement mindset found here, Canada, Western Europe (yet). Doctors there see 4X the patients and get 1/4 the pay as American doctors. Universal health care didn’t improve things there (the health care system was good already), but it did ratchet up the burden on the doctors I know there.

There is a long list of things the government is in charge of that are run inefficiently, and quite horribly. Public Schools and VA hospitals are two examples I can think of right quickly.

Just because something works for a small, homogenous western European nation doesn’t mean it will work here. Watch and see as those countries become less homogenous (via low birthrates and high immigration), as socialism as risk aversion (between homogenous classes and ethnicities) gives way to socialism as redistribution (from wealthy natives to poor African and Middle Eastern immigrants), you will soon see a change in policy there. The French electorate recently, and overwhelmingly, rejected the nanny state socialism Moore adores. As such, the French are so entrenched in the welfare state it will be hard to reverse course for a while.

And don’t get me started on Britain. They recently passed a law allowing citizens to go to other countries to receive health care on the government dime, acknowledging the severe limitations of their own impoverished system.

In Canada a citizen needed a Supreme Court ruling to allow a citizen to pay out of pocket for health care expenses. A single payer program would provide this kind of monopsony power to our federal government.

So, I’ll spare myself the anecdotal demagoguery this go ’round. There was a time when Huey Long/FDR style populism was what the doctor ordered. I don’t think that is the case today.

*This offer only applies to Logipundit Gold level members. Direct all inquiries about Gold and Platinum level membership with an email to the editor with credit card or routing and checking account number in the subject line.

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Is socialized medicine the prescription for our ills?

LOS ANGELES (AP) – When no one would help a woman who lay bleeding on the floor of a troubled Los Angeles hospital’s emergency room, several people called 9-1-1 to get her moved to another hospital.

With the new movie “Sicko” coming out you will hear several horror stories such as this one in an attempt to convince the American public that Hillary care, or some variation, will solve all these problems. But, in essence, this story exemplifies the problem with socialized medicine. Martin Luther King Jr. Harbor Hospital is a public hospital, meaning it is funded by the government. If you want treatment for all Americans to look something like King-Harbor, or the VA system, tell your friends and relatives to watch Sicko and vote for Hillary Clinton for president.

Bush health care proposal

I was impressed with the Bush health care proposal mentioned in the SOTU address last night (although $15,000 may be too high for the amount of the deduction) . His plan would hopefully move health-care purchasing decisions from HR departments to the individual level. I believe it would result in a far greater selection of plans and better cost control. Elegantly simple.

Not very impressed with the remainder of his speech, though.

Paternalism in Medicine

Hey guys this summer I did recitation for a drugs and behavior class. Part of my responsibility was to bring up some discussion points regarding drugs legal and non. Anyway I found this blog on the topic and shared it with the class; I don’t think they were ready to read for the most part, and certainly not ready to think outside the box so to speak. I know the same doesn’t apply to our faithful readership. An excerpt:

By Trent McBride:

Any claim that paternalism is an artifact of medicine’s past is simply wrong. Even though the culture has improved recently, it still lives with us today and it has no appearances of going away anytime soon. In other industries, service models revolve around a customer who hires someone to serve her needs. In medicine, doctors, with an assist from the federal government, have a dominant position with regard to the patient and have a unique amount of control over their paying customers. Many people may disagree with this characterization, but I fail to see anything different in spite of recent efforts to change this relationship. Patient autonomy does not exist in any way like it should.

In no area is this more apparent than in the prescription-only status of most medicines. It always amazes me that this fact is never called into question, especially among my medical school colleagues. There is no shortage of debate in and about medicine on just about any other topic, but we accept this culture of the gatekeeper almost without question. You would think just once you would here somebody say, “Doesn’t anybody find it odd that it is illegal for this patient to by this drug unless I write it down on a little piece of paper and then sign it.” Maybe I lack imagination, but I can’t think of another aspect of the human experience where one set of people, not members of the government, wield that amount of power over others.

the entire post is very thought-provoking. Click the link above to read.

Dr. Woo part I

Earlier this summer I was having intermittent but painful stomach cramping. Every two or three days, interminable cramping and constipation. I didn’t know what the heck was going on. I never had GI problems before. After a couple of weeks it gets to the point where I threw my guts up in the bathroom…something I hadn’t done in years. Well, I decided to go see the doctor. The friendly university clinic doc prescribed a laxative. Maybe a good idea. Except three days later the pain came back even worse.

To top it all off Yun-ju and I decided not to get air conditioning this summer. After all, last summer it only got up to 90 three days of the summer. It’s not like Louisiana, or South Carolina, if you know what I mean. So to save a few bucks we say no to buying and installing an air conditioning unit. One good result of this is that door-to-door salesmen pass by our apartment without knocking, thinking that we are too destitute to buy what they are selling. To this end we have also purchased a bottle of “That Smell”. You know “That Smell”, which lingers in the soggy trailers some of us may be familiar with, for some reason or another.

So, I’m writhing around in the heat and pain and decide to spend my Friday night (4a.m. ish) visiting the emergency room, where I first visited the bathroom. Pain pills and water…nothing was staying down.

The first thing the nurse said is, “we’ll get you an X-ray and a CT scan” Sounds frickin’ good to me. The warm towels feel good (maybe not 892$ worth of good, but I’ll get to that later). Some intern with gray hair came in and asked, “So what brings you in here today?” and “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much pain are you in?” I realized this is pretty much the extent of service you get without serious trauma. I geuss he figured I was enjoying a friday night/saturday morning in a meat locker with a warm towel. Then the brilliant real doctor comes in and asks the same series of questions. I keep wondering if there is, I don’t know, some kind of chart or maybe a record a doctor could read from so they don’t have to ask all these questions. I explain to this doctor that I’m going through this cycle of two days or so of no pain followed by a day of intense pain. He asks me which part of the cycle I’m in now. “The pain part!”

Apparently I wasn’t convincing enough because I got no tests. Three hours in the hospital and no progress. Life ain’t like “ER”. I did get half a liter of 0.9% saline (300$), which costs ~8$ when I order it in the lab.

Posted at 11:42 pm by Johnny B

Posted by BP @ 08/21/2005 11:51 AM PDT
I am waiting with baited breath for the rest of this story.