In light of the healthcare waves of panic spreading across the country at the moment, I thought I’d settle myself down and watch a little informative documentary called Sicko. Remote control in one hand, my $85 Rx of Yaz in the other, I sat on the couch ready to be wowed. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am one of “those” without health insurance. No, I don’t live in a trailer and no I’m not on welfare, but I was laid off, and even with the “generous” COBRA reform that our President passed, I am still unable to make the $285 monthly payments to ensure that I am covered. Shocking yes, but true. Even people with normal means of income and sustainable living cannot afford to be covered. So I glide in and out of each day on a wing and prayer, hoping that I don’t get sick.
Now, let’s dive in:
The premise of the movie is not focusing on the uninsured in America, but rather the insured. Wha…..you say? Let me continue….
For those of you who don’t know, the mega-insurance companies that reign in tyranny over this country must be obliterated, destroyed, bombed into nonexistence. They are where evil begins and ends. I have a profound hatred for these entities, because their mission is NOT to help you get better or stay in good health, but rather to prevent you from costing them money. And that means denying you coverage, even for life saving treatment.
Let’s examine the process:
1. You pay a monthly premium to be “insured”
2. You get sick – you go to the doctor – you pay a co-pay IN ADDITION TO your monthly premiums
(please also note that you may only go to a doctor in network, otherwise you won’t be covered. hmmm – they are telling you which doctor you have to go to? sounds an awful lot like what people are screaming about concerning the reformed system about to take place…)
3. The doctor prescribes a medication, but if it will cost your insurance company too much money in order to provide that for you, the Rx will be denied.
Wait! You’re saying I can’t get the medication the doctor prescribed for me, because the insurance company says so? How do they know anything about my condition, and what the doctor thinks I need?
Well young squire, they don’t. All they see are the dollar signs and thus act accordingly. And since you have signed over your soul to them, you are their puppet.
I have spent much of my time working for a very well known and prestigious psychiatrist in Houston. And I was exposed to the inner workings of those insurance companies daily.
A patient comes in for treatment: depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts….serious mental disturbances here people. The doctor knows what he is doing. He is the doctor after all. He prescribes a medication that will alleviate the suffering. The patient drops off the prescription, then we get a call that the insurance company will not authorize it. Ah, of course not. It’s too expensive! Symptoms be damned, our CEO’s need a new private jet!
So I call.
Insurance agent: “Has the patient tried a generic?” (because it’s cheaper)
me: “Yes, and the generics don’t work. He needs the name brand of this specific medication.”
Insurance agent: “Well, what is the reason that he needs this one?”
me: “Because the doctor prescribed it.” (I really shouldn’t have to say more than that.)
Insurance agent: “Well, I’m going to fax over an authorization sheet. You will need to fill it out, have the doctor sign it, and fax it back.”
me: filling out, signing, faxing
….3 days later….the Rx is approved and the patient can get their pills, AFTER paying the co-pay of course.
But sometimes, it won’t get approved. We are at their mercy.
Sicko touches on this subject and other disturbing processes that they follow.
One particularly horrific practice Moore exposes is that the medical doctor on staff with the highest number of denials is awarded a bonus. So, their incentives for more money is to deny people healthcare? This level of corruption is pure and unregulated. And these doctors are so far removed from the impact of their decisions that they will never see a need to change.
Fast forward to London, where the doctors there are awarded bonuses based upon the level of improvement in their patients. So, the doctor who gets the most patients to quit smoking, or lower their cholesterol or blood pressure – THOSE doctors get the bonus. Well, that’s odd. An incentive for doctors to improve the health of their patients? Just keep that nonsense on the other side of the pond, thankyouverymuch. I’m not comfortable with that system.
Michael Moore is famously one-sided and thus this film is completely biased. I like to consider myself an informed consumer, and therefore was a bit disheartened that he did not cover both sides fairly. How else am I supposed to make a rational decision? While he portrays the NHS in Europe (and the UK) to be all fairies, butterflies, and 20 minute waiting times, I know that is not the case. Both systems are flawed, and we need to choose the lesser of the two evils. Which one do I want? I still don’t know. Yet I tend to think this complaint: “I had to wait 2 hours to see the doctor!” is far far better than this one: “I can’t go to the hospital, I have no health insurance.”
One a lasting note, I was horribly disappointed to not discover a way to Cuba.
Homeland Security always seems to be interfering with my plans. And to be honest, I’m getting pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty irritated. (Larry David shout out!)
My quest continues. I will find a way to Cuba, and before all the Americans are allowed and turn the country to capitalist rubbish.
Until we meet again, stay healthy y’all