Back in 2000, when I was a second-year med student, I heard that Michael Moore was making a movie about the health care industry. I tried to get a summer internship on the project, and they weren't completely uninterested, but they weren't willing to pay and I couldn't swing a few months in NYC on my own dime.
Maybe if they had hired me, it wouldn't have taken seven years for Sicko to make it to the big screen. (I guess Moore had bigger fish to fry since then, but I choose to believe it's because they needed me.)
All bitterness aside, the movie opens tomorrow (Friday), and you should go see it. For years we've been told that the American health care system is the best in the world and everyone else wishes they were us, and Sicko addresses that fiction head-on, starting with domestic horror stories and then moving to Canada, England, France, and Cuba to find people who couldn't be happier with their care. It is linear, clear, and coherent in a way that most of Moore's other movies have not been--not because they were lacking, but because they were more about finding a point than making one.
I could pick nits, and in fact I did when I wrote my original (unpublished) review. But that's only because I spend the majority of my waking hours thinking about and working in the health care business, and none of them take anything away from the movie. My only substantial criticism is that I don't think the trip to Cuba with the 9/11 rescue workers really worked very well. It may help dispel images people probably have about health care in Cuba, but it's hard to believe that patients brought in by a famous filmmaker are going to get the same treatment as Jose Blow off the street. It gives something for Moore's critics to roll their eyes at, dismissing the valid (and, frankly, undeniable) points made by the rest of the movie. Of course, those critics would just find something else to scoff at, but the Cuba trip just seemed like a gimmick in a movie that didn't need one.
I don't think we're going to have a choice about reorganizing our health care system in the next ten years or so. What we're doing is just not sustainable, and if we're lucky public pressure will force changes before the system collapses under its own weight. In the next year and change we'll be putting the people in office who will probably be guiding that reorganization, so we really need to start talking about it now. If Sicko helps jump-start the conversation, maybe the seven-year delay will turn out to be a good thing.