As you may have heard, Michael Moore will soon be releasing a new documentary on the American healthcare system — “Sicko”. In the film, Moore favorable compares the Cuban healthcare system to the U.S. healthcare system. In the film he claims — among other things — that Cubans live longer than Americans. The New York Times investigated these claims:
[M]any people regard any figures about Cuba as at least partly fiction. But even if the longevity statistics are correct, they are open to interpretation. Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of Pittsburgh, said statistics also show that Cuba has a high rate of abortion, which can lower infant mortality rates and improve life expectancy figures. The constant flow of refugees also may affect longevity figures, since those births are recorded but the deaths are not.
That would certainly help the statistics out. As if that wasn’t enough, Cuban apologists see a bright side to Cuban poverty:
Dr. Butler said some of Cubaâ€™s shortcomings may actually improve its health profile. “Because they don’t have up-to-date cars, they tend to have to exercise more by walking,” he said. “And they may not have a surfeit of food, which keeps them from problems like obesity, but theyâ€™re not starving, either.”
This may or may not be true. I lean towards believing that it’s a pile of crock. After all, if the statistics are skewed by immigration (and why would people want to leave such an island paradise anyway?) and abortion there’s no reason to believe that their health profile really is all that good.
Even if all of this were true — Cuba is a totalitarian dictatorship! It’s not a virtue that their citizens walk more and eat less. They have absolutely no choice in the matter. They are dirt poor because their government decreases that no one be allowed wealth. There is no way that I would ever choose such a trade off. I don’t believe any other Americans would either.
Finally, there’s this:
By the time Dr. Cordova started practicing in 1992, equipment and drugs were already becoming scarce. He said he was assigned to a four-block neighborhood in Havana Province where he was supposed to care for about 600 people.
“But even if I diagnosed something simple like bronchitis,” he said, “I couldn’t write a prescription for antibiotics, because there were none.”
“Actually there are three systems,” Dr. Cordova said, because Cuba has two: one is for party officials and foreigners like those Mr. Moore brought to Havana. “It is as good as this one here, with all the resources, the best doctors, the best medicines, and nobody pays a cent,” he said.
But for the 11 million ordinary Cubans, hospitals are often ill equipped and patients “have to bring their own food, soap, sheets â€” they have to bring everything.” And up to 20,000 Cuban doctors may be working in Venezuela, creating a shortage in Cuba.
This is the system that Michael Moore thinks is superior to ours. He’s welcome to it. I’ll stick with the American system.