Health Care Industry Officials Concerned About Documentary
Some health insurance industry officials and policy experts are saying that Michael Moore's new documentary about the U.S. health care industry "taps into widespread public concern that the system does not work for millions of Americans," the New York Times reports.
The film, "Sicko," premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday and has "received many favorable reviews," according to the Times.
America's Health Insurance Plans President Karen Ignagni said that the film might encourage the government to provide more funding for health care for the uninsured. Ignagni said, "If the movie results in members of Congress and governors putting this issue squarely on the table as the No. 1 priority, we will be part of that discussion and will welcome it."
Stuart Altman, dean of the Heller Graduate School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, said accounts such as those that appear in the film of insurance companies denying people coverage for medical care "make people furious." However, he questioned whether the film would have a significant effect on policy. He said U.S. residents "hate the system -- it's too expensive -- but we have been hearing about these things for 35 years."
Altman added, "Unless we have a meltdown which affects the middle class -- that is nowhere near happening -- we will not be willing to fundamentally restructure the system."
Uwe Reinhardt, a health economist at Princeton University, said that based on early reviews, the film is "exaggerated, biting, unfair," but he noted that several recent books and articles on the U.S. health care system by academics have been equally critical. Reinhardt said he believes "we are on the verge of a populist reaction to the health system," adding, "The American people are on the point of being fed up."
Moore after the film's premiere discussed his thoughts on the U.S. health system. He said, "Let's be honest, no one's going to support dismantling the private health care system. I don't think the insurance companies are just going to give up the profit motivation."
The documentary makes its U.S. debut on June 29 (Freudenheim, New York Times, 5/22).
CNN's "The Situation Room" on Monday reported on the film. The segment includes comments from Moore (Costello, "The Situation Room," CNN, 5/21). A transcript of the segment is available online.
CNN's "Paula Zahn Now" on Monday also reported on the film. The segment includes comments from Moore (Anderson, "Paula Zahn Now," CNN, 5/21). A complete transcript of the program is available online.