Getting America to take the shameBMJ 2007; 335 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39279.711748.47 (Published 19 July 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:128
- Uwe E Reinhardt, James Madison professor of political economy, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, United States
Long before American film maker Michael Moore's Sicko opened at cinemas around the nation on 29 June (review BMJ 2007;335:47), his oeuvre had triggered a firestorm of protests from the right of the political spectrum. Its inhabitants still unquestioningly regard America's health system as the best in the world and routinely write off all other nations' health systems as “socialised medicine,” a derogatory label in these latitudes.
To be sure, Michael Moore's juxtaposition of the government dominated health systems in Canada, Europe, and Cuba with America's more private, market driven health system would hardly pass the requirement of balance and robust evidence demanded by any peer reviewed, scholarly journal. When his camera is on the US health system the lens is relentlessly focused on the system's warts and never on its unblemished parts. Moore does the obverse when illuminating foreign systems. A viewer could be forgiven, for example, for believing that under the British NHS doctors are exquisitely well paid, patients pay nothing …