written and directed by Michael Moore
I grew up in Canada, where provincial governments operate socialized health insurance systems. (In Canada, medicine, like education is a provincial matter, not a federal one.) In my province it is called OHIP (the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.) And, it seems to me that the question of socialized medicine versus capitalist medicine is a no-brainer. Of course socialized medicine is the only intelligent and wise route for a society. This puts me at odds with my own father who was an “opted out” family physician in Ontario, a doctor who declined to participate in the provincial insurance scheme until he and other opted out doctors were forcibly “opted in” by the passage of Bill C64 by the Ontario parliament in the early 1980s. There was much controversy. Maybe you remember it.
Michael Moore puts himself across as a documentary film maker, but lets not forget that he is making entertainment. I mean, he is not without his critics, his methods are not above suspicion and he is not lacking critics with legitimate criticisms. But it is a fact that millions of Americans have no health insurance. It is a fact that hospitals reject patients because of lack of insurance, and it is a fact that health insurance companies screw you for profit. I am a little concerned because I am uninsurable in a capitalist insurance market. With my health I am only insurable in a socialized health insurance scheme. So thank God for my Canada!
I disagree with Moore’s portrayal of socialized health care systems - like Canada’s - as offering “free” medical service. I have even heard Canadians describe it the same way! OHIP is not free. It is very expensive which contributes to the higher taxes we pay in Canada compared to the U.S. OHIP payments are automatically deducted from one’s income by the employer, the amount adjusted according to a scale: what is your income? Your age? The number of dependents? Etc. So the cost is easy to overlook.
The Japanese health insurance program is a mix of capitalism and socialism. There are two primary domestic health insurance programs: first, the “kokumin hoken,” the public national health insurance under which citizens are responsible for their entire monthly premiums themselves; and, second, the “shakai hoken,” employees health insurance in which employers pay half the monthly premium and the employers pays the other half (automatically deducted from monthly pay checks along with other automatic deductions like unemployment insurance, income tax, residence tax and national old age pension payments). The “shakai hoken” is a little cheaper of the two, but the benefits are practically the same. Everyone is covered, but we are not covered 100%. My health insurance is expensive and it only covers two-thirds of the cost. So I am obliged by law to participate in the health insurance program, but I almost cannot afford to use it. Therefore I pray that I never get seriously ill and that I die a swift death rather than a lingering one.
I like a socialized health care system because I like the certainty of knowing precisely who is responsible for administering it, and to whom I can complain if I am unhappy. Politicians are public servants. They work for me, and if I have any complaint I know where my Member of Parliament’s office is in downtown Guelph. Here’s an important thing: if the government takes my money by taxation - a form of theft - then the government owes me Big Time and for all time. If the government is going to take my money (on the assumption of a social compact which, I think, barely exists) then it better damn well provide maximum service - health, education, retirement, social infrastructure, et al.
This is a good film. Watch it.