Michael Moore Goes Off on Wolf Blitzer and CNN

Filmmaker Michael Moore gives Wolf Blitzer a rare “live” piece of his mind on Iraq, Fahrenheit 911, Dick Cheney, and the sponsorship of medical segments on CNN by pharmaceutical companies.

And Moore follows up on his promise to respond to Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s “debunking” of some of the facts in Moore’s film Sicko.

Blue Cross has issued a memo of internal ‘talking points’ to respond to the film.

Comments

  1. says

    CNN’s misguided “equal-time” treatment of the film is a shame because the film is very well done and has a lot of persuasive material in it and I haven’t found one thing yet to dispute the facts, only lots of differing opinions.

    One thing I disagree with Moore on is his faith in the American people, and all people, as being basically good. We’re not. Because while there are plenty of sane arguments against aspects of socialized medicine (not that I agree with them), the real #1 reason why most Americans who are against it find it so distasteful is that they would rather die of cancer themselves than find out that some black welfare mom or poor person who won’t work to pull their own weight or some phantom gay guy with AIDS might get free healthcare paid for by pennies of their precious tax dollars.

    This selfish fear is so overwhelming that most people don’t even know that Moore’s movie isn’t even about the uninsured, but about how lousy the for-profit HMO system is even for those of us who are insured.

    I like Mike’s argument that no system is perfect, but why shouldn’t we take the best parts of what France or Canada or even Cuba has and focus on fine-tuning out the obvious bad parts? Another argument of his that stuck with me is if socialized medicine is so scary, why do we accept socialized firefighters and police?

    Turn off the MSM and see the movie.

  2. shane says

    Matthew, you are so full of shit I can smell it in Tribeca. Most people don’t want universal health care because we work our asses off to have health insurance and don’t want the quality of our healthcare to decline.

    When has the U.S. government ever been able to “take the best parts” of something and make it work?

    And on your faulty logic: firefighters and police are found at all levels of government and serve ALL of the public’s good. They are not centrally controlled and do not reduce the welfare of a segment of the population.

  3. Bobby says

    Michael Moore is trying to do something good for this country. George W. Bush is doing everything he can to destroy it. Universal health care will not lower the the quality of anyone’s health care and why, Shane, should we have to be working our asses off just for insurance companies that can drop you at anytime.

    If you watched the video, you’d know that it’s costing the country more to not have people insured.

    You want to be a slave to the big insurance companies, go right ahead and keep that head buried in the sand.

    However, don’t expect the rest of us to believe what you and others say about how bad universal health care will be, when it’s obviously doing perfectly well in other parts of the world.

  4. shane says

    The British, German, Canadian, and French systems leave people hanging for years waiting on the simplest of procedures! Please, please, tell me how that is “doing well?” Are you people living in the same world? Your blindness is doing just as much damage as W’s idiocy.

  5. Charles says

    Michael Moore certainly tore Wolf Blitzer a new asshole. Well done, Mike!!!
    Too bad Mr. Moore wasn’t given the opportunity to duke it out with Lou Dobbs right after.
    That was the most entertaing interview on television since the on-air confrontation between Geraldo Rivera and Bill O’Reilly on Fox News a few weeks ago regarding Bush and Kennedy’s illegal immigration proposal being voted on in the senate.

    Andy, thanks for posting this excellent video clip and keeping your readers informed.

    Later,
    Charles

  6. says

    Shane you are so full of shit I can smell it here in Los Angeles. Anytime anyone begins a sentence with “What the American people want” you know full well it’s the “Health Care” Bandits speaking, not the American People.

    Did my heart and soul good to see Moore rip Leslie a new one.

    (That’s his name, BTW. “Wolf” was invented to make him appear more butch.)

  7. gwyneth cornrow says

    I think Shane missed Matthew’s very good point about the real resistance that is going to come up to universal health care in the next election: fear of having what little privilege they have taken away from them. It’s the same kind of thinking that had so many working class people voting Republican in the last two elections even when it was obvious that their best interests were not served by the Republicans.
    God f#$@ing bless Michael Moore for bringing this very important issue into the mainstream. The medical system in this country is pathetic compared to Canada and many European and Asian countries. I can vouch for that first hand.

  8. Rey says

    People like Shane crack me up when they talk about not wanting “universal healthcare” because they “work hard” for what they perceive to be better.

    Shane, praytell how is it that you “work hard” for your insurance? Can you tell me approximately how much you pay into insurance? I’m assuming your employer – if you’re fortunate enough to be employed – pays for a large majority of the funds. Is that correct?

    BTW, you may want to go see an ENT to take care of that fecal smell in your nostrils. I can hear you bitching about it all the way over here in Los Angeles.

  9. sam says

    I think it’s absurd that medical care is tied to employment in this country. If you loose your job, you loose your medical safety net, period. I could never go into business for myself because I’ve had surgery on my knee twice in my life and no insurance company would ever cover it. My mother has a history of cancer. Thank God she’s old enough for Medicare because no insurance company would ever cover her. We have given health care over to corporations who seek only to maximize profits, not health. It’s the exact opposite from what we as a nation should be doing if we really care about the well-being of our people.

  10. GM says

    Michael Moore is not a documentarian. He is a propagandist. His film shows only the BAD things about the American health care system and only the GOOD things about those of other countries. His journalistic skills and integrity are on par with those of Fox News.

    Cuba has better health care than the US? Give me a f’ing break . . . When will this tired, leftist veneration of Fidel Castro end?

  11. secretagentman says

    “we dont want the quality of our health care to decline’? Oh Shane, what world are you living in? The US health care system is in the shitter and has been for years. Now the Canadian system is far from perfect but I can sleep at night knowing little kids can be taken to a hospital and get the care they need no matter how little money their parents have. I wonder if Bush is proud to have millions of American kids with no insurance. Millions.

  12. Ned says

    Whatever you think about Michael Moore, the fact is that he gets people talking! We need more people in the world like Moore and Rosie O’Donnell: people who will question the status quo, and who won’t be intimidated into silence.

  13. Bryan says

    Moore is a hard man to like, but I do. Let’s just get that out of the way. He, consistently, makes very decent, needed, points; however, his ego and character often get in the way.
    “Sicko” on its own is a decent film. I feel that it’s more an emotional piece on an issue, instead of a documentary, for while the other side is nearly impossible to defend, they aren’t given any forum to even attempt that. Only minor facts are smudged, like trying to insinuate that Hillary Clinton has been bought by the health care field, because she alone has not been able to bring about health care reform. The coverage of her in the film is objective until that point; especially, when Moore is supporting, rather vocally, an opponent of hers in the presidential race, it just doesn’t smell right.
    However the minor factual flubs of the film are, the end result is a much needed, mass discussion and call to arms on this horrendous issue facing our country, of the largely poor and sub-poor health care system. For reasons I’ve never been able to understand, the people’s against universal health care convictions run deep, and vicious. Just look at how they destroyed Hillary and her plan in the 90s. It’s becoming more and more “acceptable” to talk about it, and now, with “Sicko,” I hope that it will only continue to.

  14. anon (gmail.com) says

    The economist in me wants to ask that if Canadian, British, French, etc. healthcare systems are so efficient and wonderful as MM says, why can’t they sell health insurance to Americans? They could even set up govt. run hospitals and clinics here in the USA. In theory, their magic would allow people to migrate to their systems by proxy because it offers a better deal.

    I also wonder how we can have universal access and open borders, and why can’t we just send our own sick people to Canada or the UK for treatment–since it is a right you know. Hmmmmm…..

    Wolfie isn’t so smart when he goes off script, is he.

  15. mark m says

    One thing Moore does – and I am thankful for it – is he asks the right questions. I don’t always agree with his answers but he’s in-your-face with it and passionate and we need more of that kind of dialogue in this country.

    Who needs catfights on The View when we have Wolf Blitzer (a drag name if I ever heard one) being handed his ass by Michael Moore?

  16. Giovanni says

    “The British, German, Canadian, and French systems leave people hanging for years waiting on the simplest of procedures”

    Years? Really? Gee that’s terrible (someone should organize a day of global concerts highlighting the evils of having to wait two months for FREE elective surgery and then another for FREE emergency surgery with no life threatening wait time) yet somehow the desperate natives of these far off lands of vague repute (It’s truly hilarious the way people refer to Canada as if it were outer Mongolia instead of an hours plane ride away from NYC) manage to live longer and healthier lives – but then again they haven’t switched to the fuzzy math system yet so what do they know?

  17. Wolf says

    “The British, German, Canadian, and French systems leave people hanging for years waiting on the simplest of procedures! Please, please, tell me how that is “doing well?” Are you people living in the same world? Your blindness is doing just as much damage as W’s idiocy.”

    Giovanni. Waht you have written above is the worst case senario that has happened to a small very minority of people in those countries. And peopel do eventually get treatment.

    You know what happenes here to more than just a samll minority. People get NO TREATMENT AT ALL AND DIE.

    You my friend are an idiot.

    You knw what the worst case senario is Ame

  18. Rob says

    Finally! Someone called out CNN for not asking the questions on the War 5 years ago. And why is it such a bad thing to say universal healthcare for EVERYONE? You might be able to afford your healthcare, but what about the tens of millions of people who can’t and die as a result? Have we really become that selfish where we rather see people die on a daily basis because of a shitty healthcare system. Why does this have to be a political issue? Democrat/Republican Liberal/Conservative everyone gets sick.

  19. anon says

    Shane you are full of shit.

    Please do a little research in a history book about america’s past when fire departments were ALL privately run by seperate and competing fire insurance companies.

    Finaly the government had to step in and create NON private sector fire departments for the safety of the people which equals SECURITY.

  20. anon says

    Giovani

    The waiting supposedly that you cite is BULL shit

    If you have an ingrown toe nail then yes you will wait, but then if you are such a pussy that can’t deal with an ingrown toe nail you can pay out of pocket to have it done in all of the socialized medicine countries. They still offer private sector doctors for pussys like you screaming about an ingrown toe nail.

    Now if what you have is life threatening then there is NO wait period.

    The screamers about “wait periods” just scream and scream and never ever provide one bit of fact to support their shrill screams.

  21. JHT says

    Have you all forgotten all your friends that have died and are dying now of AIDS because they could not afford the health care! It sucks when your sick and have to leave your job, benefits disappear and then the fighting with the insurance companies begins. Deciding whether you really need the food or the medicine?

  22. anon (gmail.com) says

    People seem to want “universal” healthcare largely because they like the sound of it, as when they sell soap by saying “New! Improved!” or when restaurants hang signs out “Under New Management”. However, the vast majority of healthcare dollars are spent during a patient’s last couple of months of life–all those desparate measures–and this is the sort of care that the Europeans deny or heavily ration. In some European countries now they basically euthanize the elderly to save money. What fun!

    Another issue that comes up is the point that none of these countries have the same scheme. The French have govt. sponsored insurance and private service while the British have govt. run hospitals with a private system running in the background. The Canadians have banned private care. Massachusetts has now mandated that everyone be covered by insurance, though no one seems to know what the rates are going to be.

  23. anon (gmail.com) says

    Oh, and if the waiting time problem doesn’t exist, why do politicians constantly raise the issue during the British Prime Minister’s Question Time? Are they just being shrill?

  24. says

    I’m an American who has been living in (socialized everything) Denmark for the past two years. After a handful of experiences with socialized medicine here, I truly don’t understand the opposition to fixing the American health care system.

    Yes, wait times are an issue. But when people in Europe complain about ‘wait times’, they mean for routine procedures, such as having a cyst removed, or long-term care. They do NOT mean that emergency services are slow. The ERs here are incredibly impressive, and you are NEVER asked about your financial status or insurance information. The focus is on getting you better, no questions asked.

    But that’s not really the issue. Pointing out the problems with European care does not justify the massive injustices of American care. Right now, whether you are insured or not, you have no power. If something goes wrong, you will have to fight your insurance company to get it paid. If you lose your job (which often happens when you are sick, for Pete’s sake), you will be facing thousands of dollars in medical bills. Not to mention the myriad ways your insurance company can decide to screw you over.

    Michael Moore was pretty stupid to highlight Cuba in his movie, I think. The debate has shifted to ‘Well Cuba’s worse!’ or ‘Canadians have to wait!’ instead of focusing on the objective problems with U.S. care that anyone would be appalled by if confronted with.

    Think about what would happen if you got sick. Every dollar that is spent on making you better is seen as a dollar loss for your insurance company. They have *no* incentive for helping you in any way. They are in business to make money, and your sickness threatens that. Is this really a system worth defending?

  25. silverskreen says

    Giovanni,

    Is it just me or do these people not realize what an f’n quotation mark is? MY GAWD!!

    Luckily some of us know how to read.

  26. Stephen says

    I support universal healthcare for all U.S. CITIZENS providing it does not cost me a penny more in taxes (or ‘fees’). I’ll continue to pay my share out of my own salary and leave it to more intelligent people in this given field to come up with the provision for others without the care.

    As for Michael Moore, he makes good arguments for his cuase, and I applaud anyone who doesn’t sit silent and let things just happen to them and to the Amercican people, but he COULD do it a bit more tactfully. He sort of swats a fly with a sledge hammer.

  27. sean says

    moore brings up two essential points in his back ‘n forth with leslie (love that, thanks david)… we already have socialized medicine for the elderly and indigent and for the rest, a system of FOR PROFIT health care. and there’s the rub. FOR PROFIT. me thinks the shit smell that shane is smelling is truly coming from his OWN backyard. as the healthier Brits would say, “cheers!”

  28. Ron Serdiuk says

    Here in Australia we always bitch about waiting lists for elective surgery, etc. (for example my very elderly father has waited several months for free surgery to his big toe. It isn’t exactly life threatening stuff – but it would make his quality-of-life better!)

    We all admit our universal healthcare system is far from perfect!

    However – when you have somethinng life-threatening it generally is pretty good.

    I got back from a six week holiday in Europe a couple of years ago, and about a week later I developed a severe headache. It turned out I had viral meningitis and was very ill.

    I was hospitalised for a week at the main public hospital in town. I had my own room in the isolation ward – up on the top floor – it was a bit like a reasonably swank hotel room with an amazing view of the city – and received exemplary care. Had umteen bood tests, lumbar puncture, etc. etc.

    When I left at the end of the week I was presented with the bill – $7.00 for a box of painkillers to take home with me.

    That was it.

    I suspect from what I;ve herad that if this happned in the USA I’d still be paying it all off now…?

  29. Brian says

    Ron, a week’s stay in a specialty ward of a public or university hospital in the United States will likely result in a bill amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. Yes, you’d still be paying it off today. Medical bills are the number one reason for bankruptcy in this country.

    No one seems to recognize that creating a universal health care system in the U.S. will not prohibit individuals from purchasing additional or alternative insurance from private companies. Universal coverage would provide basic services to all Americans… which would likely result in increased preventive care, decreasing the number of people who experience extraordinarily expensive complications related to lack of regular primary care.

    Previous commenters are correct… if you lose your job in the United States, you’re screwed. If you change jobs with a pre-existing condition, you’re screwed. If your insurance company denies your claim, you’re screwed. If your insurance company enforces a 20% co-pay, you might be screwed (depending on the services you received… 20% of $100,000 is a lot to fork over). There are lots of ways our current system screws us over, both for individuals and for corporations.

    And one final note… if you look at the final bill for a hospitalization, you’ll notice some pretty high-priced items in there. A thousand bucks for this procedure, ten thousand for that procedure… etc. What you might not know is that insurance companies as well as Medicare/Medicaid have negotiated either a much lower price for the procedure performed, or they have negotiated a lump sum that is paid to the hospital that is associated with your primary diagnosis. The only people who end up being asked to pay the entire billed amount are… wait for it… the uninsured or underinsured who don’t qualify for Medicare and Medicaid. That’s right, the only people who pay that amount are the ones who are least able to afford it.

    And we want to keep the current system because….. ????

  30. Bobby says

    How about 5 bucks for a straw, 10 for napkins, yep, you get charged for all that if you have to stay in the hospital for even a day.

    This country rips people off and smiles about it.

  31. Derrick from Philly says

    Wolf and ANON: Y’all haven’t apologized to Giovanni yet. Gay people are big enough to say, “Oooops, my bad, I’m sorry.”

  32. Larry the Leprechaun says

    I’m a doctor from Ireland, and did my training in Ireland, the UK, France and the US. Making sweeping statements about any system is unproductive, and trying to pretend that any one country has it perfect is just silly. What is important is that healthcare is a right that no-one should be denied; whether the system is private, public or a mixture is of no consequence, so long as it works to ensure that everyone is covered and everyone is treated.

    My biggest problem with healthcare in the USA is that children suffer. Care for pregnant women and for all children under 16 should be free – no questions asked.

    The US system of private insurance companies, while relevant for a post-WWII era, is antiquated. It excludes the average worker and families while providing world-class care for the rich.

    The key thing to remember is that healthy kids means healthy adult citizens, which makes for a better economy and a better America. Universal healthcare is achievable – the US has conquered worse problems.

  33. anon (gmail.com) says

    The basic reasons for Europeans being healthier than Americans are demographic: we have much larger numbers of immigrants and the poor, plus we are middle aged working class is now largely obese, with the middle class not far behind. It has little to do with healthcare because chronic conditions are generally uncurable at present regardless of what system you fall under. There are treatments for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc. , but they still result in a poorer quality of life. Other chronic conditions are generally the result of physical injuries, such as car crashes, gunshot wounds and work injuries which simply don’t heal properly–things that afflict the poor more than others. MM showed the case of the guy who cut off his own finger tips, which would normally be covered by workers comp insurance. This is almost always mandatory for businesses. The insurance is very expensive and provides generally excellent coverage. Having not seen the movie, I don’t know why he wasn’t covered by workers comp insurance.

    There are things medicare/medicaid does, such as fixed pricing, that results in a guaranteed loss for any provider, so the difference is made up by overcharging paying customers. Europeans also set prices for meds that are below cost, and the difference is made up by overcharging Americans. In other words, there are hidden taxes in health care paid for by the insured. Were socialized medicine to come to all the US, the fixed price advantage will not come with it without rationing because providers will not work at a loss. In other words, the pill companies will stop selling pills at a loss and hospitals will stop providing services at a loss because they have no way to make up the difference. The govt. could set up its own hospitals and make its own pills and run them at a loss, but these are not likely to be very efficient or cost effective.

    Again, someone explain to me, why I as an American, or anyone else cannot simply make an appointment with a Canadian doctor and then go across the border and receive the care for “free”. It would seem to be the perfect solution for the uninsured in this country.

  34. gwyneth cornrow says

    Anon (Gmail): no offense, but you’re clearly tripping. Your logic really doesn’t make any sense and I don’t know where you’re getting your information from comparing European and American demographics. And as for Americans going across the border to see Canadian doctors: how does that solve the problem of the uninsured in the US? You have asked this to be explained to you. Here goes: In addition to this idea being unworkable for people who require extended care, who have jobs, who can not afford to travel or are too sick to travel, it sounds suspiciously like what right wingers told anyone dis-satisfied with the outcome of the last presidential election. I fail to see why Canada should be responsible for the welfare of citizens of the United States.

  35. Larry The leprechaun says

    Anon, I am not sure where your data or reasoning come from, but Europeans aren’t healthier because of demographics. Regardless of how you compare to other countries, a nation should always strive to improve itself – giving excuses doesn’t make the problem go away. If the majority of ill health on the graph is because of poor immigrants then surely we should focus on providing better access to health care for them? Anyone who works with Medicaid/Medicare will tell you how truly bad they can be. I once had a girl refused a certain HIV medication because Medicaid didn’t cover it. In Europe, as flawed as our systems may be, she could not be refused her treatment.

    It is true that other countries negotiate with drug companies to bring down costs, but it’s false to claim that this directly raises the price for Americans. All US hospitals strike similar deals, but sadly are far too keen to accept terms where they can only prescribe branded drugs – it’s this practice that makes drugs more expensive. Thankfully states like Texas have brought in legislation that gives patients rights to demand cheaper generics.

    Talking about providers working at a loss is senseless – where does this happen in Europe or Canada? The US spends more on healthcare per capita than many EU countries combined, but gets less value for money. There is a litany of ways that insurance companies (understandably) try to cut costs and (sadly) end up costing the patients and the economy more. One example was a lady I tried to discharge from a DC hospital: she needed a blood test before she went home, but her insurance company insisted that it be processed through their own labs in somewhere in the Mid West to save money. This would take another day. We could have done the test on site but her insurance wouldn’t cover it and it was a costly test. So she spent another night in hospital (costing thousands of dollars) because the insurance company protocol mandated they save a few hundred on a blood test.

    And as for your point about going to Europe or Canada for free – the funny thing is that a European can go anywhere in the EU for treatment. In Ireland, for example, with our semi-socialised system, if you’re waiting for more than 3 months for a procedure you’ll be flown abroad for the treatment. That can include places like the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, etc. Not a bad deal really. And we spend far less per person than in the US.

    Working in the UK, I saw many, many non-Eu patients walk through our doors for emergency and other treatments and they were all taken care of, the majority charged not a single penny for their (world class) care. Remember, when you don’t have to worry about dealing with stubborn insurers, you can spend all your time dealing with patients.

  36. says

    Anon… you’d need a gov’t issued health card to get treatment in Canada… you can’t take books from our libraries either.
    it’s also extremely difficult to find a Canadian doctor that accepts new pateints.
    perhaps you should marry a Canadian.

  37. RJ says

    Anon: “Again, someone explain to me, why I as an American, or anyone else cannot simply make an appointment with a Canadian doctor and then go across the border and receive the care for “free”. It would seem to be the perfect solution for the uninsured in this country.”

    Um, because you wouldn’t be getting health care for free in Canada unless you have a Canadian provincial health card, which is only issued to a permanent resident of Canada. If you come to Canada for health care, you’d be billed the current rate for uninsured out-of-country individuals for services. You are then free to submit the receipts to your American insurance company to be reimbursed.

  38. Mike says

    Thank God for people like Michael Moore. Even though I disagree with his certain tactics, he presents a fresh argument and view point many Americans do not get because commerce controls the media and what it puts on. Rosie left the View and its ratings have plummeted. We need people like this in the US, not the same ole b.s. we get every night.

  39. Cory says

    Not to be Debbie Downer, but the reality is nothing will happen as a result of Michael Moore’s documentary’s. The American people are too lazy, hopeless and lost in their own individual selfish needs or are over-worked and stressed to get involved to make a difference. It is apparent from the last two Presidential races and this corrupt administration that the American public is powerless or disenchanted. What has become of Michael Moore’s last film, as he has correctly stated that he WAS right? NOTHING. Our “elected” leaders are still in office and no one seems concerned about the loss of rights or the trillions of dollars for a war for OIL.

    As a diabetic since I was 12, and as my father has been since 6, I can assure you just how corrupt and broken health care providers have become in the U.S. Even when I was spending $800 a month on health insurance I was fighting with Blue Cross almost weekly about reimbursements that were clearly covered in my plan. I later found out I was being mislead as there is a NY State plan offered for diabetic coverage at $149/month, but I had to research and dig around until someone at Blue Cross finally admitted it’s existence (it’s called “ValuMed Plus” for those interested). My father, who has lost both his legs from diabetic complications, has had nothing but difficulties as a fully paying Blue Cross costumer.

    The bottom line, any time you put dollar signs on human life, there will be corruption. The privatization of the health care industry has resulted in paid off bureaucrats and a corrupt system more concerned about making money than about treating people in need.

    Just examine the Pharmaceutical industry. I have friends who work for Merck and J&J in R&D who state they will NEVER cure a disease as there is more money in TREATMENT for the companies. That rings true for Diabetics. The amount of money I spend monthly on syringes, insulin, test strips, etc. is ASTRONOMICAL. In the long run, Pharmaceutical companies will make more money treating my disease for life than offering a one time cure. The same goes for cancer, AIDS, etc. Why do you think the President is so against stem cell research? Cause it would bring us that much closer to a cure for diseases, and the Pharmaceutical companies that much closer to losing control of treating long term diseases (and with diabetes on the rise in the U.S., that translates into BIG SUMS for many years).

    Money equals power, and we hand over our money daily to these people because we have no choice. Isn’t America a great country?

  40. anon (gmail.com) says

    Cory: actually, there are incentives for cures, for example: those cheap bastard insurance companies would much rather pay for a cheap cure than an expensive treatment.

    Canadians: Ah, so you need a “Card”… I thought it would be something like that. Not a “right” after all. The other practical issues were not really what I was getting at, but even if only half our sickest patients could find a way to Canada that would greatly help our crisis at home–now it looks like they would be turned away.

    Larry: actually I was avoiding conflating the poor with immigrants, particularly since immigrants when they first arrive in the US are generally healthier than the native population, but also lack health insurance, and with our open borders, represents a huge tax liability for any universal coverage. Likewise, per capita spending is not related to carrying a loss. We spend more per person largely because of medicare and the use of emergency rooms to treat the poor for routine matters (they cannot be turned away, even if they are illegal aliens). In the US we spend an enormous sum on end-of-life care that is largely useless, not to mention over-medicating the elderly, which is also expensive. Other countries cut their “losses” right there, spending a greater sum on prenatal care and children. Despite this, Europeans have a negative population growth, probably because it is very difficult to get a job before age 30 in many places, and because children have become very expensive to raise (or at least marginally so, when you toss in VAT and high income taxes). Another expense we have is litigation and malpractice insurance, which must be paid for eventually by patients. It is unlikely that stricter malpractice claims restrictions will come about BEFORE universal care, despite its high expense. I’m not sure what you meant by: “Anyone who works with Medicaid/Medicare will tell you how truly bad they can be.” You mean both programs? Well, that should be a warning to anyone on how the whole universal thing will turn out. As for coverage availability, once you make the system political, it becomes a question of political power as to who or what gets covered. States are enacting laws requiring coverage for various illnesses in insurance policies, even if people don’t want coverage, therefore increasing costs and diverting resources away from where they are really needed. For example, NJ now requires coverage for mental illness, though I believe there is an opt-out provision if you go through the right hoops. Only the politically well connected groups can lobby for coverage effectively, leaving many illnesses in the dark. The big holdup is going to be that AARP and the elderly in general are not going to allow the reduction in coverage in medicare to take place that would be necessary to enact universal coverage.

    In general: Well, why stop with healthcare? Why not have govt. pay for housing, transporation, food and college? Certainly these things, food and housing in particular, that are just as important as healthcare. Why should I have to pay for food? I have to eat. I have no choice. It’s unfair that some can afford steak and lobster while other eat only Spam or cat food. Why should farmers make any profits? It’s ruining our foodcare system. They are just too greedy. I could go on…

    Solutions? We have to play with some numbers to get a feel for what would work and what would not. Well, let’s say the govt. set up medical savings accounts for everyone and gave everyone $5000 per year to cover medical expenses, starting at birth. Why this would only cost $5000×300000000=$1.5 Trillion per year. For most people this would result in a net savings–they may not even need insurance. They would not be able to spend this money on other things, though they could invest it to get a return. For the sick, $5000 per year would not cover their needs, resulting in a misallocation of funds, though it might purchase insurance for full coverage. This would cost the 100,000,000 taxpayers $15000 per year in taxes each, meaning that the typical taxpayer would be at a net loss of $10000 per year. They could self-fund to eliminate the middleman, as with a 401K. Now, we could only tax the top 1% of wage earners, but this would cost those 1,000,000 people $1.5 million per year, or more than many of them earn. So there are not enough of them to cover the total. We could cover the amount if we raise income taxes by 50% though. There would be slight savings from the elimination of medicare and medicaid, not to mention the savings on insurance and medical care deductables/copays. What do you do with the sick people who can’t purchase insurance at $5000 per year or whatever allocation would be available from a lifetime of savings? After all, by age 20, you’d have $100,000 + interest in the bank if you had never made a withdrawal. 4% interest over 19 years earns about $40,000. If half was spent each year on care, the total would be $70,000 roughly by age 20. By age 40, the total would be $180,000 roughly. By age 60, roughly $330,000. This would just about pay for open heart surgery or cancer care, requiring only supplemental insurance. 4% is fairly conservative. However, the real solution lies in medical breakthroughs that bring down the costs of healthcare. So far the ROI on our War on Cancer has been nil. Heart disease prior to heart attacks can now be treated well though. The net savings has been low though because people simply live longer and get heart attacks later in life, along with strokes and cancer.

  41. RJ says

    Anon (Gmail.com): “Canadians: Ah, so you need a “Card”… I thought it would be something like that. Not a “right” after all. The other practical issues were not really what I was getting at, but even if only half our sickest patients could find a way to Canada that would greatly help our crisis at home–now it looks like they would be turned away.”

    What the heck are you talking about? Here’s how it works in Canada. If you can prove yourself to be a citizen or landed immigrant of Canada, you can simply go to the local ministry of health branch office and obtain a health card. If you choose to be lazy and not go apply for the card, then it’s not the problem of hospitals, doctors and clinics to provide “free” health care for you.

    And why should Canadian taxpayers help ease your health care crisis by treating your sickest uninsured citizens for free, when your own government refuses to do so?

  42. says

    Anyone posting negative comments here who has not seen Sicko needs to see the movie and you will most certainly do an about face. If not, there is no hope for you. I saw Sicko last night. Frankly, I didn’t think that Moore could produce another film as powerful as Fahrenheit 9/11. I’m happy to say I was wrong. Not only does this documentary clearly show how corporate greed and corrupt politicians have ruined this country and the health care system, the underlying message is that we don’t have much time left to fix this horribly broken system. Sicko is a movie that every American can relate to.

    Those of you lauding your insurance coverage simply have not experienced a complicated illness or hospital stay. Being self employed, I watched my monthly premiums rise from $340 per month to over $1,400 in six months after a 3 day hospital stay!

    Ever heard of retroactive insurance cancellation? You will see a woman who did not disclose treatment for a yeast infection get her insurance canceled. The money paid for her operation and medical bills was back charged to the doctors and hospital which her put into bankruptcy. This is quite common.

    Although I enjoyed the movie immensely, I was particularly amused by the loud profane comments shouted every time a clip from a George Bush speech hit the screen. The audience was incensed by his image, as was I. George Bush needs to be drug out the front door of the White House by his heels. He is one of the most worthless bastards who ever lived.

  43. says

    Shane… So long as you have what you need, everything is fine? Perhaps, far off in the land of Tribeca, you might take some time off from waxing your chest to think on and realize that MANY people have to chose between rent and food or seeing a doctor.

    I didn’t even know what health insurance was until I was an adult. I never saw a doctor my entire childhood… thank god I never got sick – pure luck.

  44. RUSSELL says

    Johnny Lane – thanks for the comment. One of the most important here. What we have now is a scam, it’s just that some people haven’t realized it yet.

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