T Nation

Sicko/Foreign Healthcare


Hey guys, I just finished watching Michael Moore's newest documentary about American healthcare and while the stories he tells are good...hes Michael Moore. I'm curious if all the things he talked about that happen in Canada and the UK are true. Basically he shows that Canadians do not have to wait very long for health care and things like that. I was wondering if any posters from outside the US(particularly Canada and UK) can share what their personal experience is with your countries healthcare.


The movie fails because I don't care how long it takes for anybody else to get health care. The fact that universalism puts me at the government's mercy to receive treatment is more than enough reason to reject it.


Havent seen the video, but wait times still suck here (3-4hrs) depending where you live, especially if it isnt anything serious. That being said I can still get the care I need if/when I need it, and ive waited under an hour for minor injuries in some places. Depends where you live I suppose. The care you do recieve though is to notch generally speaking.


I live in Australia which has a public healthcare system and where I live it is damn hard to get an appointment to see a doctor. If you have a serious injury you will be taken care of but if not you have to book in like 3 weeks in advance to see a doc. I just never go.
I live in a rural area though so there aren't enough doctors, I dont think this is typical. I dont know what emergency waiting lists are like. Surgical waiting lists for elective surgery are really long if you dont have private cover, thats pretty much everywhere.


that's a hell of an av


I live in the UK, while I've been lucky enough to never have to go into hospital for anything, I've seen some who have.

An example. My gran slipped over and broke her foot, she went into hospital to get it plastered and for a few days observation. She picked up infection after infection, she was moved to a different hospital where she was ignored by the nurses (to the point where I was asked to leave because I yelled at the head nurse because she'd been laying in her own waste for over an hour) and two years later came out with dementia and unable to walk.

The problem with the healthcare system in the UK (as far as I'm aware, and I'm far from an expert) is that there's so little money going into it, nurses are overworked and underpaid to an insane extent. There's a shortage of nurses mainly due to the pressure put on them (my friend trained as a nurse for 4 years, did 2 years in the hopsital then left to become a receptionist).

I haven't seen Sicko, I refuse to watch Michael Moore films after seeing his one about 9/11. I have heard a couple of Brits review it though. It received mixed reviews, but one thing they did all say was his opinion of the British healthcare system was bullshit (well, they may have just said wrong, this was public radio).


after reading the few posts so far, I ahve come to understand how horrible our healthcare really is.

Wait times of only 3-4 hours in the E.R. is a dream come true.
here I was in an auto accident, pretty serious a large car ran into the back of my compact car going about 75mph (high way speeds no hint of slowing) while I was stopped at a stand still in traffic, and it took,even with mine being priority almost 8 hours to be seen.
and this is in a new hospital in a very nice suburban area. with very few people in the waiting room actually.

and then I get x-rays and sent home with a note telling me to follow up with my doc in 7 days.

and it cost me just shy of $10,000 for x-rays,mri,pain meds for that night, just basic care to make sure I would not die in the night.

maybe private healthcare is not all that its cracked up to be.


I live in Sydney (pretty much right in the middle of the city), and getting a GP who bulk bills is pretty easy. If you don't book you might wait 30-60 mins, but bookings aren't too hard to get.

I had to take a friend to ER last year (because he punched through a sauna window and cut down to his bone), and we had to wait 4 and a half hours to get it stitched.


I haven't been in Sweden all that long, and the few times I had to see a doctor (including taking a badly-injured friend to the ER), it was smooth. Practically no waiting time. The downside is that you need a prescription to buy just about everything. And the system will probably not hold for long given the low population replacement rate.

The French system is about the same from my experience. Highly trained professionals and excellent coordination between different services. Granted, they don't have the latest million Euros gizmo, but nothing's stopping you from seeking better treatments elsewhere.

Moore's movie was just horrible, but the point he was trying to make holds on its own. The wealthiest country on Earth and world's sole hyperpower should provide healthcare to its residents. It certainly is more constructive than bombing the shit of other lands.


Thanks guys, these are exactly the types of responses I was looking for. I take everything Moore says with a grain of salt, and wanted to hear first hand experiences with this.


My personal experiences with the Canadian system have been good; going to the local clinic with a kid, for example, usually has you seeing a doctor within 2-3 hours. Getting a regular family doctor can be difficult; as many don't take any new patients.

I know some particular types of care, mostly those for old age related disease such as cataracts or hip surgery, have long waiting lists, sometimes exceeding 6 months. Other conditions, such as heart disease, have practically no delays at all. My dad's doctor got concerned about his heart rythm during his last checkup and he got transfered to a hospital, tested and checked out all in the same day.


The people I know that come to America for vacation from Canada purchase a rider to cover them while they are in America


You had alot of traumatic injuries? You obviously weren't much of a priority if you waited 8 hours. You should be mad at the EMT's/paramedics that brought you there, they are the ones that told them you were a low priority. I have never waited longer than an hour to be seen in an empty ER waiting room. Maybe you need to choose a new state or something.


As an American, I've never had to wait any longer than an hour to get care.


I have zero problems with US health care from my current standpoint (I'm no where near rich or even upper middle class).


well I dont want to derail this thread so I wont get into a debate,and also I only have had a few hospital visits so take my statments for what its worth.

but when I had insurance through my employer and I was injured on the job I had wonderful care,it was fast and they made sure everything was done and done right.

Now that I am self employed and I don't pay for insurance I pay cash for everything,I had horrible care and I was in bad shape,throwing up blood,breathing problems,chest pain,black outs. lower back pain and a broken cheek bone from the airbag.

they triaged me and right after that a lady with a computer on wheels asked my name,address,and if she could take my insurance info.
I told her I will just pay the bill,she said Ok lets sign you up for welfare.
I told her no thank you I am self employed and have no need for help with any of my bills just send me an invoice and I will pay it.

and then thats when the waiting started.
I think they figured I wasn't going to pay my hospital bill or something. and maybe I just got a bad hospital I do not really know.
All I know after one time like that a person kind of looses faith in the system.


I live in Belgium and I'm getting treatment for dust myte allergie. Actually, it's a desensitivity program (only works against dust mytes though, not against stupid people) and it means I get injections every 2 weeks. I go to see the specialist, he charges me ? 50 for seeing me, having me tested by his nurses, prescribing and delivering the drug, injecting me the first dose. Half of that is paid back under our universal medicare system.

I go to my general doctor for the other injects, the cost is about ? 25 and the full amount is paid back. I go into his waiting room, get treated in about 15 minutes, have to wait another 15 minutes afterwards to see if I don't keel over.

I've had to have a couple of MRI's on my knee and echo's of my shoulder. The echo's have a waiting list of about a week, the MRI's 2 weeks. The cost for me was about ? 25 for the echo's, ? 75 for the MRI.

Of course, the system is paid for by the taxes we pay. Paying taxes buys you civilisation.


We rarely have to wait more than 30 minutes to see a doc. Everyone is still alive, and healthy.

Our doctor gives us a 60% self-employed discount when we pay out of our pockets, which is about 99.9% of the time.

About the only time we have to wait is when we are referred to another physician for more tests. My son hurt his knee a couple of years ago and we had to wait about an hour for the traveling MRI truck to get set up.

Moore could find dog shit in a pork loin. It's what he does. There is zero objectivity in anything he does.

We don't need nanny care. That is for the nutless Euros and the half-French Canadians.


thank you RJ, and the other US folk,I am seeing that I just was sent to a horrible hospital and I guess after talking to other people around me as well, what I went through was not the norm. it was actcually a pretty rare thing.

Looks like I have some complaining to do.


Most of us in the western world have little to complain about. Shit happens, but it is not he norm.


a lot of people in the us dont know how bad our care is until they have to see or be the one to stay for an extended time, like 5+days with surguries, and thier bill comes to two years of pay.

I'd rather be under the thumb of a nanny state hospital who my voting/activism can at least have a chance at protecting me, instead of some medical conglomerate who i have zero possible influence on and will 100% of the time charge me more than any nationalized care would.

ive seen many a people leave the us to avoid paying thier monsterouse medical bils.

the movie obvioulsy had little objectivity but he made a solid point, most affluent coutnry, some of the worst health care. big reason why medical tourism is getting bigger, american style private care is a crap shoot, 60% of your costs are simply to push paper in the massive private insurance structure.

an interesting point ive heard, if the private insurance field was dominated by one huge monopoly, our costs would drop 40-50% becuase of the lower processing required which is what keeps our costs so high.