Is “Sicko” Foreshadowing the Fate of Universal Healthcare in America?

I recently received an email newsletter from my distinguish Alma Mater, the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Headline: “Is change ahead in healthcare? If interest in the movie “Sicko” is any indication, insurance woes are moving to the forefront of public concerns.” This headline seems to imply the Michael Moore movie/documentary “Sicko” 1 is being seen by a great many people. I was under the impression, though, that “Sicko” was doing poorly at the box office. Being a university, I would expect ASU to lean liberal, therefore I could see them using their wishful thinking to project better box office results on “Sicko” than it is actually receiving. So let’s take a look at the numbers and find out exactly how popular is Michael Moore’s newest documentary.

According to Yahoo! Movies, Sicko had made $19,140,000 through July 22, 2007 (5 weeks in theaters). Considering the average movie ticket price in America is $6.58, this means that about 2,908,814 people have seen the film. Not a bad figure. That puts it in 6th place all time for documentaries…right behind the 1991 documentary, “Madonna: Truth or Dare.”

To give some additional context, this “Sicko” figure of almost 3 million viewers is roughly what the PBS News Hour gets on a nightly basis and only about one tenth of what American Idol will get on a given night. So you see, the box office results for “Sicko” are hardly the type of fan-fare the ASU news article is implying. But one thing I hope ASU is right about is that the lack luster results of “Sicko” is a foreshadowing of the publics’ interest in Hillary Care or any other form of socialized medicine.

The US Health Care system may not be perfect, but it offers the best medical care in the world. We have the best doctors and people from around the world come to this country when they need the best health care. And we have this because of the free market, or what is left of it after Medicaid and Medicare, in the health care system. Letting the government run health care, as Michael Moore proposes, would definitely not help; what needed is more market forces and less government intervention. (Consider the differences between FedEx or UPS, private mail delivery companies, and government run the US Postal Service.)

But if socialized medicine, like what they have in Canada or Cuba, is what you want, keep this in mind. The Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank, recently published their 16th annual survey entitled, Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada. It found the average waiting time in Canada between seeing a general practitioner and getting treatment was 4 months! Depending on where you live and what type of treatment you need, the wait could be 9 months. And I don’t have any data for Cuba, but based on the number of people willing to risk their life each year making the 90 mile swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida, I’m guessing medical care in the socialist paradise of Cuba isn’t that great either.

1. “Sicko is a documentary film by director Michael Moore, released in the United States and Canada on June 22, 2007. The film investigates the American for-profit health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, comparing them with the publicly-funded health care systems in other countries. Sicko criticizes the American health care system on the grounds that the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not offer free, basic health care to all of its citizens. The American system, which the film portrays as maximizing profit at the expense of patient care, is contrasted with the universal health care systems of Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Cuba.”

1 reply
  1. Amy D.
    Amy D. says:

    Totally interesting observations, Jimmy. I have almost wanted to see that show just to know what he was trying to say, but I’m sure I would not appreciate it.


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