Documentary Film Assignment
Provide complete answers to the following 21 questions (4 points each + 16 points for free: 100
points total). The questions occur chronologically in the documentary film
Sicko by Michael Moore (2007). The last question does not require the film. Answers must be type-written,
single-spaced, with 12-point font, and numbered 1-21, for full credit. Do not recopy each
question but you must answer each part. The assignment is due by the start of class on
Saturday, December 1. You may submit a paper copy in class, or send your answers to my
email as an attachment, but if I do not have your assignment, cannot open or print it, for any
reason, in real time by the deadline, it receives the late penalty: 20 points each 1 week (each
class) it is late. Once I print it, I will let you know.
You can watch the film at watchdocumentaries.com/sicko/ or at vimeo.com (with Spanish
subtitles). On vimeo, search for “Sicko” and then click on “documental michael moore – sicko
(spanish) (2007)” from Areandina: located in the 8
the box on the right side of the screen as you
scroll down. Moore put this documentary into the public domain a few years ago (signing away
his profit rights to it), so it is legal to watch it wherever you can find it (without paying for it).
1. (a) Adam had to stitch which one of his knees himself? (Right or left.) (b) Which hand
did Rick cut the tops of two fingers off? (Right or left.) Where did the top of Rick’s
middle finger end up, after he could not afford to have it re-attached?
2. (a) Frank Cardille is how old? (b) Who provides his insurance? (c) Why is he still
3. Why was Laura Burnham billed for her ambulance ride after her car crash?
4. By the end of one week, exactly how many emails did Michael Moore receive in
response to the request for healthcare horror stories to feature in his film?
5. Becky Melky (Malke) cries, who works for a health insurance company, cries during her
6. Why were the Japanese doctors but not the American doctors able to diagnose Maria
Watnabe as having a brain tumor?
7. (a) What would be wrong if I, following Dr. Glen Hollinger’s lead, simply stamped all
student essays with a “B” immediately? (b) What’s wrong with paying doctors (medical
reviewers) who have the highest denial rates a bonus? Explain. (This question refers to
the scene in which Moore interviews Dr. Linda Peano.)
8. How much did the Health Insurance Association of America spend to defeat Hilary
Clinton’s healthcare plan (when she was First Lady)?
9. What country has the 36
the best healthcare system in the world (while the U.S. ranks 37
thein the world for healthcare)?
10. (b) Which CEO of a health insurance company made 1.6 billion in one year? (b) What
company did he work for?
11. Blue Cross/Blue Shield paid $117 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company
did what illegally and unethically? (What is shown as the reason?)
12. What American has to pay nothing to see a doctor in Canada when she illegally crosses
the border for the purpose of receiving medical treatment?
13. Canadian Larry Godfrey sustained a golfing injury in the U.S. As all Canadians, he is given
free universal healthcare. How much money did it save him to fly home for treatment
rather than have his emergency treated in the U.S. (even with his out-of-country
insurance he paid for in order to travel to the U.S.)?
14. Brad, another Canadian, didn’t have to pay to have his fingers surgically reattached after
his accident. (a) How many anesthetists worked on Brad, even though he wasn’t paying
for the operation (they are free in Canada)? (b) How much did Rick have to pay (as an
American) to have his middle finger re-attached?
15. (a) In England, what do you have to pay (in American dollars) for prescription pills, no
matter how many or what kind they are? (b) And if you are under ___ or over ___ they
are free, if you live in England. (c) How much did Frank Cardille’s wife have to pay for her
prescribed pain killer (for her hip)?
16. (a) In England, their national health insurance NHS provides all English women who are
pregnant __ months off with pay. How many months off with pay do American mothers
expecting get? (Google this.)
17. (a) What 5 industries does Moore say (or show) are socialized in the U.S.? (b) What
does it mean to say these American services are “socialized”?
18. To counter the claim that doctors would make less money if the U.S. adopted a single
payer system (the U.S. government would be the provider for all U.S. citizens), Moore
interviews an English doctor. What is his title and what is his yearly salary in U.S.
19. (a) What did MLK hospital in Los Angeles do when Mychelle arrived via ambulance?
What did they do wrong? What would MLK have done if one of the doctors or nurses
went ahead and gave Mychelle a shot instead of obeying rules not to? Explain.
20. (a) Alexi Cremieux was born in France, but lived and worked in the U.S. for ___ years
without U.S. medical insurance. After learning he had a tumor, he returned to France to
get free treatment. (b) How many months off with pay in France did Alexi receive after
21. (a) According to Bernie Sanders (see his speech below), what is the single biggest
problem with the American healthcare system? (b) How much could we save if we
switched to Canada’s system? (c) Would Canadians switch to our system if given the
Bernie Sanders’ Senate floor statement during debate, December 16, 2009
The day will come, although I recognize it is not today, when the Congress will have the courage
to stand up to the private insurance companies and the drug companies and the medical
equipment suppliers and all of those who profit and make billions of dollars every single year
off of human sickness. On that day, when it comes–and it will come–the U.S. Congress will
finally proclaim that health care is a right of all people and not just a privilege.
There are those that think that Medicare-for-all is some kind of fringe idea–that there
are just a few leftwing folks out there who think this is the way to go. But let me assure you
that this is absolutely not the case. The single-payer concept has widespread support from
diverse groups from diverse regions throughout the United States. In fact, in a 2007 AP/Yahoo
poll, 65% of respondents said that the United States should adopt a universal health insurance
program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare and financed by
Why is it that we need an entirely new approach for health care in this country? The
answer is pretty obvious. Our current system, dominated by profit-making insurance
companies, simply does not work. It does work for the insurance companies that make huge
profits and provide their CEOs with extravagant compensation packages. It does work for the
pharmaceutical industry which year after year leads almost every other industry in profit while
charging the American people by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
Today, 46 million people in our country have no health insurance or health insurance
they cannot afford to use (copays and deductibles in the thousands of dollars to see a doctor)
and an even higher number are uninsured. Tens of millions of Americans do not have access to
a doctor on a regular basis. 45,000 Americans die annually of preventable diseases.
In a town in northern Vermont not far from where I live, a physician told me that one-
third of the patients she treats are unable to pay for the prescription drugs she prescribes.
Think about the insanity of that. That is a crumbling health care system. Because of
pharmaceutical industry greed, we are forced to pay by far the highest prices in the world for
prescription drugs. This is indefensible. Not only are we causing unnecessary human pain and
suffering, but it is also an economic disaster. Talk to small businesses in Vermont or any place
in the country, and they tell you they cannot afford to invest in their companies and create new
jobs because all of their profits are going to soaring health care costs to pay for their existing
employees’ plans. Of the nearly 1 million people who will file for bankruptcy this year, the vast
majority are filing for bankruptcy because of medically related illnesses.
Today, the United States’ government spends almost twice as much per person on
health care as any other country. Despite that, we have 46 million without coverage or without
coverage they can use because it is too expensive for them to meet the deductibles or copays
to see a doctor or have treatment. Why is our government spending so much and getting so
little? According to an OECD report in 2007, the United States government spent $7,290 per
person on health care. Canada spent $3,895, almost half of what we spent. France spent
$3,601, less than half. The United Kingdom spent less than $3,000 and Italy spent $2,600. Why
is it that that happens? The simple reason as to why we spend so much more than any other
country without outcomes not as good as most others is that legislation maintains the private
for-profit health insurance companies. That we cannot touch private health insurance
companies is our core assumption. Yet according to the World Health Organization, the U.S.
in terms of health system performance, compared to other systems such as those in
Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. They did a poll in Canada.
They said to the Canadian people: What do you think about your health care system? People
in America say you have a terrible system. Do you want to junk your system and adopt the
American system? By overwhelming numbers, the people of Canada said: Thank you, no thank
you. We know the American system. We will stay with our system.
What is the problem with our system, which makes it radically different from systems in
any other industrialized country? It is that we have allowed for-profit private corporations to
develop and run our health care system, and the system that these companies have developed
is the most costly, wasteful, complicated, and bureaucratic in the entire world. Everybody
knows that. With 1,300 private insurance companies and thousands and thousands of different
health benefit programs all designed to maximize profits, private health insurance companies
spend an incredible 30% of every health care dollar on administration and billing, on exorbitant
CEO compensation packages, on advertising, lobbying, and campaign contributions. This
amounts to some $350 billion every single year that is not spent on health care. It is spent on
bureaucrats and on insurance companies telling us why we can’t get the insurance we pay for.
The money is spent on paying staff who are not delivering babies or treating people, but are
submitting claims and sending out bills. That is the system we have decided to have.
From 2003 to 2007, the combined profits of the nation’s major health insurance
companies increased by 170%. The top executives of the industry are receiving lavish
compensation packages. In 2007, despite plans to cut 3 to 4% of its workforce, Johnson &
Johnson found the cash to pay its CEO named Weldon $31.4 million for the year. Ron Williams
of Aetna took home over $38 million for the year, and the leader of CIGNA, Edward Hanway,
took home $120 million for five years of work.
Let me briefly explain the main features of Medicare-for-all single-payer system. Every
American–not 94% but 100% of American citizens–would be entitled to care. You would have
the same choice of doctors and hospitals that now exist. It is a national health insurance
program which utilizes a nonprofit system to deliver patients to doctors and to bill patients. It
is not government-run healthcare, it is government-run health insurance. There would be one
health insurance program for members of Congress, the poorest people in our country, and for
all. In that process we would save some $350 billion in bureaucratic waste. You would receive
all necessary care, including primary care, emergency care, hospital services, mental health
services, prescriptions, eye care, dental care, rehabilitation services, and nursing home care.
The government would be able to negotiate prices on costly drugs with the pharmaceutical
industry. Every other industrialized country on Earth primarily funds health care from broad-
based taxes in the same way we fund the Defense Department, Social Security, and other
agencies of our government.
All payments to private insurance companies would be eliminated. No more payments
to UnitedHealth or WellPoint, Blue Cross, Kaiser, etc. We would add the billions in savings to a
2.2% tax income increase and a payroll tax (for employers) of 8.7%. This payroll tax would
replace all other employer expenses for employee health care. These moves would pay for the