Michael Moore’s must-see documentary, Sicko
And then came the expose of a PR campaign by the private health care industry to discredit Moore’s documentary…
I was reading the latest edition of The Edge – I am interested to see how the business folks think and what motivates them – when I came across a report that private hospitals are full because of the H1N1 alert.
You would think that this would keep these private hospitals busy. But folks in the private hospital industry are actually worried – not because of the H1N1 outbreak – but because these flu patients do not bring high enough revenue yield! “Flu patients could occupy the beds for up to five to six days and yet make less money [for the hospitals] than those that come in for higher-yield procedures such as minor surgeries but who would only occupy the beds for about three days,” an industry observer told The Edge.
But for hospitals that are running below capacity, the pandemic could spell good news for their business, The Edge report reassures the business community. The report was titled ‘Hospitals full, but where’s the money?” These private hospitals are raking in millions of profits – and yet it is never enough.
Nice to know the priorities of some of these private hospitals. They are more interested in “higher-yield” (i.e. more profitable) patients than in your suspected H1N1 fears. Oh, what a nuisance!
Now ‘the in thing’ is “health tourism”, which will further drain human resources from the public health care system.
We know that privatisation of health care began with a vengeance under Mahathir and continues to this day. That was a blow to our underfunded public health care system, which was neglected as specialists, doctors and experienced nurses left for greener pastures. The BN has much to account for in the way it managed – or rather mismanaged – the public health care system.
Of course, the rich and the upper-middle class who can afford medical insurance have no problems with private health care as they can afford it. But as Moore’s movie shows, even those with medical insurance can sometimes be denied claims because of “pre-existing conditions”, not to mention a long list of excluded diseases.
We know how the BN has mismanaged the health care system. But what is the stand of Pakatan on liberalisation of health care? We are so focussed on BN vs Pakatan, we often don’t ask these questions. Can we hope for universal health care as seen in those systems highlighted in Moore’s documentary? It is not impossible if we have the political will. After all, a civilised society is one in which no one should be denied quality health care because of a lack of means. In a civil society operating a universal health care system, the better off would be ready to chip in to help those who are more vulnerable and sickly through a system of cross subsidies. It is only in a callous society that folks tend to think of “me first” and to hell with everyone else.
Or is Pakatan more interested in “business as usual” as evident in the way it is promoting “health tourism” in the states it controls? Is there any difference between the BN and the PR in this respect? Do they not see how “health tourism” could eventually hurt the health care interests of the lower-income group by further entrenching the two-tier health care system – one system of the rich and an inferior system for the poor?
Watch Michael Moore’s documentary. It’s worth the two hours.
And if you have experienced any problems with private hospitals and medical insurance, just drop me a line in the comments below.