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December 6, 2007 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Sicko

I finally saw SickO, the latest documentary but the love him or hate him Michael Moore.  I know it’s been out for a while, but I don’t see movies until they are available through our pay-per-view system.

Of course there was a lot of controversy surrounding the movie, it wouldn’t be a Michael Moore movie without that; but I have to say it should be viewed by everyone in the U.S.  I thought it was a movie addressing the fact that so few people have health insurance…but no!  As Mr. Moore points out in the first five minutes…this is a movie for people with health insurance. 

Just rent it and see what you think.  Health care has always been a big point of contention for me, since the majority of people in my family have no access to it.  Many of the points made throughout the film confirm what I am starting to see more and more with my own insurance–and the insurance of people around me–it’s really not the benefit it ought to be.  I have great health insurance at the moment, but over the past few years there have been signs indicating that it is going downhill along with everything else Corporate America has to offer.  I haven’t experienced any of the major crises that have happened to the people in the movie.  My problems have been mostly of the annoying variety.  For example: 

I get billed for things that are supposed to be covered.  I call the insurance company to fix them, and all it takes is for me to say, “hey, this should be covered” and they fix the bill.  It’s like they send a bill hoping that I will pay it and not notice.  The problem is I have to go through the bills line by line, and if you’ve ever glanced at a medical bill, then you know they are written in a language with otherworldly origins.  Completely lost in translation.  If I am really lucky, the next bill comes with the charges removed. 

Other annoyances:  I have to see the same doctor every time I get sick–the doctor that is listed as my “primary care physician” on my insurance card.  The problem is I that my doctor is often unavailable, but dang it, my kid is sick now or I have a broken appendage now or something in my abdomen is exploding now…so give me whoever is available.  Sure, I could wait a few days, like the woman in SickO who had to wait be transferred to an “in-network” hospital, (in the process, her child died from a high fever resulting in eventual cardiac arrest) but no thanks…as of now I can afford to splurge on the doctor bill.  So instead of paying a co-pay, I have to pay the co-pay and then wait for a bill that usually amounts to a couple of hundred dollars, just because I saw the other doctor the next room over.  What a complete crap system, if you think about it.  But these are just minor complaints…there are real horror stories out there.

In SickO, one man (some kind of lumber worker) sawed off two of his fingertips in a work accident.  The powers that be told him they could sew on the ring finger for $12K, or the middle finger for $60K.  He opted for the cheaper finger.  Months ago when the movie came out, I remember hearing some medical dude on the radio defending the practitioners, saying that the facts in the movie concerning the lumber man’s fingers are skewed, that would never happen, yada yada yada.  But I can assure you, that it can happen. 

Years ago my dad was doing some remodeling work and he cut off his thumb on a table saw.  I was reading the newspaper in the kitchen and I heard some serious yelling.  I ran to see what happened; my dad was holding his arm to his chest and said “take me to the hospital!”  I was fifteen and wearing socks, but I (thinking the worst) thought he must have sawed off his whole hand and that he might be bleeding to death.  We ran to the car and I drove us up to the emergency room, sans shoes. 

It took forever for my dad to be seen at all.  It was horrible to watch him, shocked and turning gray.  I demanded to know what was taking so long, but they nurses were waiting to verify some paperwork.  No one seemed to be in a hurry.  They wouldn’t even provide a painkiller.  Being fifteen, I deeply, silently hoped that one day they would stand in my shoes with a loved one missing an appendage (I was a lot less nice than I am now, when I was fifteen) and then told to wait.

About an hour and forty-five minutes went by before the doctor could attend to the severed thumb.  I remember it well…there was his mangled thumb, sawed off at the base, hanging by a thin strip of skin. 

They reattached a couple veins or vessels or whatever so that the thumb could live.  They told my dad that if he wanted to actually feel his thumb, that he would have to travel 200 miles and pay out of pocket to see a micro-surgeon to work on the nerves.  It was going to be a lot of travel and money.  So we’re all happy that my dad still has a thumb, and it’s a neat party trick in the winter because it turns blue and cold.       

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. pikespeakdenise / Dec 10 2007 6:38 pm

    I feel kind of bad that I laughed at the last line. 😮

  2. gypsy13 / Dec 7 2007 1:43 pm

    I’ve been curious about that film. Let me fix you up with my dr. office. I always get in the same day and can see anyone in the practice, no extra fee, even if they aren’t my primary care person. Same with the girls’ pediatrician. They are awesome.

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