Monday, April 23, 2007

US Health Care system

I was in Paris when Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 came out and it is what probably caused my political awakening, among other things. So I've always kind of looked forward to the "next one."

Well, his next one is Sicko, which looks at the American health industry and takes a big baseball bat to it. All I know is that in one part, Moore takes some people suffering from respiratory problems thanks to 9/11 (the terrorist attack) to Cuba so they can see what it's like to be treated in Cuba.

We all know Moore's style by now so it's hard to know how bias this will be, but this article from Alternet is pretty interesting. I've always enjoyed the discussion of how one country (mainly my own, Guatemala) compares to others (mainly to the US, since everyone in the States things they have the best system and that all other doctors are probably just sticking leeches on people).
From the article:

We are paying for a massive, inefficient bureaucracy. The increasing cost of prescription drugs also is increasing the healthcare bill, and U.S. drug costs are the highest in the world; Americans pay 30 percent to 80 percent more for prescription drugs than citizens of any other country.

You might think that this excess money goes into developing new drugs, but you would be wrong: Only 13 percent of drug costs go to research and development, and little of that goes for pioneering new drugs to deal with life-threatening conditions; 51 percent goes to marketing, administration and profits.

Profit. That's the biggest problem with the system. In other countries, it's a service the government provides for its citizens to help them cope with sicknesses. But not here. Here it's a business, which is an awful way of "taking care" of people.

Whenever I tell people that I have had this or that procedure done in Guatemala, they look at me and kind of fidget.

"But, like, no offense but . . . is it safe? Are the doctors . . . OK?"

This is after I've already told them I've gone and had it done. It's not a lack of sensitivity, it's just a lack of understanding that the system in the best country in the world isn't the best in the world.

We'll see how Michael Moore verbalizes all these things.


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