Worth a Look?

Michael Moore has rarely been accused of being an even-handed critic, and the odds are that his new movie Sicko won't break new ground in that respect. I haven't seen it yet, but I think I will take a look when it comes.

The New York Times has a critical look at a couple of its claims:

Mr. Moore transports a handful of sick Americans to Cuba for treatment in the course of the film, which is scheduled to open in the United States next month, and he is apparently dumbfounded that they could get there what they couldn’t get here.

“There’s a reason Cubans live on average longer than we do,” he told Time magazine. “I’m not trumpeting Castro or his regime. I just want to say to fellow Americans, ‘C’mon, we’re the United States. If they can do this, we can do it.’ ”

But hold on. Do they do it? Live longer than, or even as long as, we do? How could a poor developing country — where annual health care spending averages just $230 a person compared with $6,096 in the United States — come anywhere near matching the richest country in the world?

Statistics from the World Health Organization, the C.I.A. and other sources all show that the people of Cuba and the United States have about the same life expectancy — 77 years, give or take a few months — while infant mortality in Cuba is significantly lower than in the United States.

The NYT has some quibbles about interpretation, but quibbles or no, it seems like a pretty scathing indictment of our health care system.

As far as I know, there are no boat people trying to escape from the US to go to Cuba, but if a corrupt, autocratic, desperately poor third world country is matching us in health care, that's one more data point showing how little we get for our ($6096/person) health care dollars.

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