Moore, Gupta and Some Reality


If you missed it, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta did a piece on Michael Moore‘s latest movie, “Sicko“. I like Dr. Gupta and have always had the impression that he was a sincere journalist. However, his comments about Sicko sounded like they came from someone I’d never heard before. They were entirely out-of-character for Gupta, at least the character I’d come to know.

Moore then appeared on CNN with Wolf Blitzer and unloaded on him about that piece, the media, the war and seemingly every other wrong in the world. It was actually quite fun to watch. He pointed out several things Dr. Gupta got wrong in the piece and Wolf attempted to defend both the piece and Dr. Gupta. It was so heated that the next night Larry King hosted both Moore and Gupta for a follow-up segment and it went about the same as it did with Wolf the night before.

Finally, CNN came out and admitted that they’d blown a couple of things about their report and also admitted that they could find no errors in the data Moore used in his film. Meanwhile Dr. Gupta still contends that there are a number of “apples to oranges” issues with the way Moore chose his data. All of this Moore has detailed acceptably on his website but that doesn’t seem to have much impact.

The main issue that bugs me about Dr. Gupta on this issue is that he keeps trying to sell people on the perception that health care is the other industrialized countries (all socialized) is not only not free because it’s paid for by taxes (how stupid does he think we are?) but must be lacking because a number of people in these countries has supplemental coverage on top of it.

This is just pure fear-mongering of the worst kind. He paints this picture but gives no other facts about it. I work with people all over the world and worked for a Canadian company for some time. As you know I also broke my leg in Canada, got wonderful care incredibly cheaply and, irony of ironies, I’m still fighting with Blue Cross here to get my reimbursement for that expense more than a year and half later.

Yes, it’s true that many people in these countries have supplemental coverage. What Dr. Gupta fails to mention is that much of it has NOTHING to do with a concern about the existing coverage. Most of it comes from employers who offer a supplemental package as an incentive to recruit better employees. In the Canadian company I worked for that supplemental coverage cost them a whopping $50 per employee per month. Whoop-de-doo!

Dr. Gupta also continues to suggest that these systems are crushing people with taxes. He meanwhile fails to compare it, apples-to-apples, with the costs we incur as a result of our system. How many people in these countries go bankrupt due to medical costs? Almost none. Here it’s the leading cause of bankruptcy. He doesn’t mention that many of these countries use those taxes to pay for drugs, college, day care, nursing and many other things we have to pay for out of our pocket. These expenses, when added to the cost of our health plans cost us much more than what people in these other countries are burdened with.

The last time someone did an analysis of how much it would cost to insure us all the number was in the billions. I see numbers ranging from $20 billion to $90 billion. Now, is that a lot of money? You betcha. People against the idea will tell you this is the kind of funding that’s just not possible and yet we’re able to come up with hundreds of billions of dollars for a war half of us didn’t want and 80% of us now want no part of. How is it we can afford killing our kids but we can’t afford less to heal them? That’s what I want to know.

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