Sicko is not a movie about the 50 million Americans walking around without health insurance. Sicko is a movie about the other 250 million of us who have insurance, but are just as well and truly screwed. It’s also about freedom, real freedom, not the empty kind that gets thrown around as a buzzword; the freedom to live your life with the certainty that forces beyond your control won’t take away everything you have and everything you are. We don’t have that kind of freedom here in America, and Moore’s film makes that point by simply talking to real people. They’re your neighbors, your friends, your parents, some of them are even 9/11 heroes. Moore uses his camera to let them tell their stories of insurance company mistreatment and in the process paints a complete picture of a corrupt and fatally flawed system which isn’t just killing people but taking away their dignity and their liberty.
At first, he isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know. Anyone who’s spent any time dealing with insurance companies knows what a mess it is. You pay your premiums and then when you actually need them they go out of their way not to help you. They’re in the business of finding reasons not to spend money, and everyone knows it. What you may not know is just how far they’ll go. Having insurance doesn’t mean you’re protected, and the film covers both ends of the spectrum from people left to die because insurance companies refuse treatment, to people dropped from policies for bogus reasons, to an elderly couple driven to bankruptcy and made homeless by high deductibles. The film leaves no room for anyone to think it won’t happen to them. It will. It happens to everyone, just in varying degrees. When you walk out of Sicko, you’ll do it with the absolute certainty that if you ever encounter serious health trouble, you’re screwed.