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SICKO Part Five: Fixing the System

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First, let me explain why doctors might be so impotent when it comes to doing anything about a health care system many of them clearly see is wrong. I read a research paper some years ago by a psychologist trying to analyze why physicians allowed themselves to be manipulated into situations that were patently against everyone’s best interests, including their own.

The conclusion was referred to as the “good little boy” phenomenon. If you want to get into medical school, make it through the years of rigorous training, join a good medical group, and establish yourself in your new physician community, you have to go through life being a perfect little boy or girl. Don’t make waves, don’t protest, everything is fine just as it is. “Yes,” you’re told, “there are problems with the system, but at least as a doctor you’re never unemployed and the money is good.”

Hardly the breeding grounds for political activism.

I was sickened when Dr. Sanjay Gupta, well-known CNN physician, used his platform to say that Moore’s SiCKO was an exaggeration and that the American health care system was just fine.

Then I realized he was the ultimate “good little boy” doctor, and as a neurosurgeon (average salary $700,000) and CNN health commentator (millions) was so far removed from the day-to-day plights of American patients that he’s likely unaware of his own embarrassing ignorance.

And the American Medical Association, little more than an impotent union whose membership numbers are in free-fall (fewer than 30% of doctors are members), is no help. A typical AMA meeting includes the usual themes: declining insurance reimbursement, the malpractice “crisis,” and lengthy debate on whether doctors should sell vitamins in their offices. Your well-being, and how it might be improved by changing the health care system at its roots, is a non-issue.

So really, if you want to change this system and make health care a right and not a privilege, you’ll have to do it yourself.

First, go see SiCKO. Next, check out Michael Moore’s six-line prescription for change by clicking here.

Then find out for yourself the stance of each presidential candidate on universal health care. Don’t accept an answer like “It’s open for debate” or “We’re going to consider all the options and take it from there.” There is no debate. There are no options.

The truly sickening concept of making money for private investors by providing fewer and fewer health care benefits must be surgically removed from the health care system and disposed of forever. The health insurance industry has proven itself the worst of rogues and our health care has suffered in the process. The industry cannot be rewarded with yet another government contract.

Just like we wouldn’t want our police force or fire departments to be turned over to a private company like Halliburton, we can no longer allow Humana, UnitedHealth, Cigna, or the Blues to run our lives. In American history, we dismantled the slavery industry, factories with inhumane working conditions, and child labor. Dismantling the health insurance industry should be easy by comparison.

Learn the position on universal health care from each of your congress people and let them know your position. If they’re wishy-washy, replace them with someone who has a backbone. You might also suggest a quick (but temporary) fix: lower Medicare to start at age 45. Despite a lot of faults, it works reasonably well.

Soon my son Ben will turn 23 and be unceremoniously dropped from our family health insurance policy. As a film student, with no immediate long-term employment prospects, I should be worried about his coverage, but I’m not. He lives in Canada. Let me tell you, it’s a nice feeling to know he’s got open access to excellent health care at no cost.

That freedom from worry should be available to us all.

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