Theaters across the country are showing Sicko, Michael Moore's latest film. Most reviewers are praising the movie, some don't - mainly for the wrong reasons. Mr. Moore is a gifted movie director who knows how to make an impact on those moral issues that are affecting the country, and with a remarkable ability to make us laugh.
But I don't believe that the condition of our health care system is a laughing matter - it is indeed very serious.
It is not funny at all that more than 45 million Americans, living in the richest country on Earth, are lacking basic health care coverage. It is not funny that millions of our children are among those uninsured. It is not funny when, back in l982, the one and only Ronald Reagan. our "Great Communicator," warned the American people of the evils of socialized medicine in one of his speeches defending "our moral values." The same Ronald Reagan showed astonishment at the news that Americans were having difficulties to get jobs, advising them to look at the daily newspapers' classified sections.
WE ALL REMEMBER the serious attempt in 1993 to take the first steps to solve our health care crisis. This effort was aborted by an insidious strategy from the American Medical Association and the pharmaceutical giants, along with the guidance of the largest insurance carriers in the country, pouring millions into advertising on every TV channel the dangers of socialized medicine.
It is inevitable for many of us to chuckle upon hearing the scary reactions of the majority of the people to the word "socialism." It is very sad indeed, since it shows our parochial attitude toward words we are not familiar with (not surprisingly, since politicians are even afraid to be called "liberal"). The great irony is that Medicare, our most effective and fairest medical provider of health care, is a social benefit.
IT IS DISTURBING to listen to all the fabrications about the mediocrity of the Universal Health System in England, France, Spain, Italy and most of the rest of Europe, as well as in Canada, our next door neighbor. One of the biggest ironies is to learn - not from Sicko but from statistics by one of the most reputable publications, The Economist - that Cuba, economically a Third World country, has among all nations in the world one of the lowest infant mortality rates, 4.9 per thousand, lower than the United States (Singapore is 3.0 per thousand). The same applies to life expectancy, with 78.1 years compared to 77.9 in the United States (Japan is 82.8 years).
We must realize that in this time and age universal health care must be universal, from the cradle to the grave.
(The writer has 35 years experience in the health insurance business - 10 years in Cuba, and 25 years in Puerto Rico, managing two large American-based insurance firms.)