EDITING : 2024.4.22 월 18:51
The Gachon Herald
The world which drives a person without money to die?The shocking truth of the American healthcare system; SICKO
Kim Na-Young  |  clara0385@naver.com
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Updated : 2015.09.11  20:12:59
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   Every Korean and every Korean medical institution must, by law, join the ‘National Health Insurance (NHI)’ plan. Thanks to this law, we all equally get medical insurance benefits in hospitals and pharmacies. In the movie SICKO by director Michael Moore, America’s healthcare privatization is reconsidered. Healthcare privatization in Korea has been the source of continuous debate for the past few years. The question is whether necessary medical treatments, under the control of private management, can be equally accessible by the rich and the poor. Consider that the medical benefits that we take for granted are not necessarily available in the other countries. And then consider what is happening in the United States, one of the richest countries in the world; it is greatly surprising. I’m going to introduce SICKO, a movie that digs into the dark reality of the U.S. medical care system, which frankly speaking, we know only vaguely.
  This movie starts by introducing the story of Americans. Adam had an accident and his leg was torn. Adam, who is one of 50 million people that are not enrolled in the U.S. medical insurance, sutured his wound by himself at home. Rick cut both his middle finger and ring finger but because he is out of the medical benefits system, the hospital tells him to choose either $60,000 for the middle finger suture or $120,000 for the ring finger. Rick chooses the ring finger and his middle fingertip is subsequently buried in an Oregon landfill site. In the U.S, almost 50 million people can’t get health insurance benefits. They just hope every day that they don’t get sick. So then are the 250 million people who are enrolled in the health insurance getting good medical services? According to the movie, the answer is ‘No’. This movie is not for the 50 million uninsured people like Adam or Rick. This is for the 250 million people who are enrolled in the health insurance system. The story of people who are supposedly living the American dream!
  A middle-aged couple, Larry and Donna Smith face bankruptcy and decide to move in with their daughter. Larry was a mechanic and Donna was a newspaper editor, so they never expected such a miserable life for themselves. But Larry’s several heart failures and Donna’s cancer made their life like this. They had health insurance, but the company’s compensation and deductions slowly disappeared until the Smiths could no longer keep their house, and eventually became bankrupt. Like this, even if one joins an expensive private insurance plan, the insurance company may refuse to give insurance payments for all sorts of reasons. But it is still difficult to be enrolled in a private health insurance plan. Insurance companies don’t accept people easily for many reasons. Many people are rejected when they are too thin or too fat. Becky Milky, who works as a telephone counselor in America’s largest health insurance company, tries to set aside sick people rejected by the insurance company. She gives telephone counseling as to why the person can’t get the medical coverage. The reasons that many people can’t join the medical insurance are numerous. People who finally can pass these difficult procedures walk on the red carpet to the medical clinic. 
  Tasha Harris, who enrolled in a good medical insurance plan, got coverage for an operation from the insurance company. Tasha had had a common mold infection but when the company found out Tasha’s mold infection medical history they refused to pay for her operation. Tasha had already recovered from her illness after putting on mold cream from the pharmacy, but the company still refused to pay for her operation based on this information in her common record. Eventually, Tasha was abandoned by the company. This common non-contagious disease can become a serious one, in which case the medical insurance company would have to spend their money. In the American medical system, demand for payment is regarded as a medical loss, so the higher the payment is the higher the rate of payment refusal. Insurance company employees are even given bonuses for avoiding payments to customers. I wonder for whom this kind of medical system exists!
  In the second half of the movie, the medical systems of other countries are introduced. Madrian who got cervical cancer at the age of 22 was refused an insurance fee payment. The reason is that people at the age of 22 don’t get cervical cancer. So she went to Canada, pretended to be married to her Canadian friend, and got the treatment. Canada’s medical system, which offers free healthcare service to the whole nation, is noticeably incomparable to the U.S. healthcare service. Also, in the United Kingdom state-run hospitals, not only are all treatments free but they also have a transportation assistance system for poor patients. The payment standard is decided by ‘Can this patient leave the hospital?’ and ‘will this patient go to a safer place?’, not by ‘Did this patient pay money?’. In France, college tuition and medical services are all free, and the government regularly sends a visiting housekeeper. Lastly, the movie describes Cuba, which Americans think is inferior to their country. However, in Cuba, Americans who met with Cuban medical personnel were offered the best treatments because they were treated as a patient, rather than a list of constraints like they experienced in the U.S. Michael Moore finishes the movie, saying, “There is better system for the patients and we can do better, but what’s wrong with our healthcare system?”
  There is no doubt that U.S. insurance companies are focused on maximizing their profits rather than treating people’s health. It is shameful that the U.S.A., with a GDP ranked 1st in the world, yet is ranked 37th in the healthcare system market. I want to say what one U.K. ex-member of parliament said: ‘If money can kill people, can’t we save people’s lives with that money?’ The most important thing is that as a country becomes wealthier, it should protect more of its people. Don’t you think that every country should at least protect a minimum level of national welfare? In Korea, medical privatization has been controversial and is still being discussed. It is not yet happening in Korea, but it’s really scary that it has already happened in other countries. I just hope that the U.S. system isn’t introduced to Korea.

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