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The Free Market Cure

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Language  English
Director  Stuart Browning
Country  United States
The Free Market Cure movie poster
Release date  2007

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The Free Market Cure is a series of four short documentary films, each of which tells a separate story about the failure of socialized medicine in each of the subjects' lives. The films focus on the "single-payer" system as seen in Canada, the likes of which has been advocated by other filmmakers, like Michael Moore in his film Sicko.


John a allison discusses the financial crisis and the free market cure


The series is meant to offer examples of cautionary tales which give cause to question the nature of the effectiveness of socialized medicine, particularly for individuals in the United States, whose government is gradually taking steps towards socializing medicine.

Uninsured in America

This film challenges what the filmmaker calls the "myth" of the suffering uninsured in America. The film gives several pieces of evidence to support its claims. The film claims that according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2007 data, 17 million (38%) of the approximately 45 million uninsured people in the U.S. live in households that have incomes greater than $50,000 per year, an amount that Devon Herrick of the National Center for Policy Analysis asserts is high enough that one could reasonably assume that the members of such a household should be able to afford some degree of health insurance coverage. Furthermore, 9 million (20%) of the uninsured, make more than $75,000 per year. Additional demographics that make up a significant portion of the uninsured are the 18 million 18- to 34-year-olds that the film refers to as the "young invincibles", who spend four times as much money on alcohol, tobacco, entertainment, and dining out as on out-of-pocket healthcare, as well as the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. that the film asserts receive healthcare without being insured.

In addition to the undocumented immigrants, citizens of other nations can request "compassionate entry" at the U.S. border, and be picked up by American ambulances and taken to American hospitals to receive treatment.

Herrick later says that uninsured people in the United States tend to receive 50-60% of the amount of care that insured people do. He says that, effectively, the country is disincentivizing people from paying for their health insurance.

Two Women

The short follows a Canadian woman named Janice Fraser, who suffers from a bladder disease that has caused her bladder to be incapable of functioning properly, leading to near constant pain, frequent infections and accompanying high fevers. Janice needed an operation to insert an electrical implant which would stimulate her bladder to function. However, the Canadian specialist that consulted her explained that he was only allowed to perform 12 such operations per year, and that Janice was number 32 on the list and would likely have to wait nearly 3 years for the operation. Janice and her mother offered to pay for the procedure to get it done more quickly, but were turned downed, as this is against Canadian law in the single-payer system. They received little help from their parliamentary representative, nor from George Smitherman, the Ontario Minister of Health, who the film describes as the "ultimate healthcare gatekeeper for the 12.5 million citizens of Ontario."

Meanwhile, Susan Gapka, a male-to-female transsexual, was able to enlist the help of Smitherman and the government in paying for her sex change operation.

While she waited for her implant, Janice's constant infections eventually worsened to the point that necessitated the removal of her bladder completely in order to save her life.

A Short Course in Brain Surgery

Lindsay McCreith is a Canadian man who began having serious headaches and eventually suffered a seizure in January 2006. His doctor suspected a brain tumor may be the cause, and recommended that Mr. McCreith get an MRI, but was told that he would have to wait 4 months to get one. Instead of waiting, private medical broker Rick Baker of Timely Medical Alternatives directed McCreith to get an MRI done in the U.S.; he was able to obtain an MRI in Buffalo, NY one day later, and learned that he did indeed have a golf ball-sized mass in his brain. He proceeded with his medical treatments in the U.S. instead of waiting for it in Canada. Baker says that they were able to compress the entire process, from MRI to consultation to biopsy to surgery to 4.5 weeks, and estimated that McCreith might have waited as long as 8 months in Canada - a potentially life-threateningly long wait.

McCreith attempted to gain reimbursement from the Canadian government of the $28,000 of medical expenses, but was denied because he didn't have the proper permission from the Canadian government to seek treatment abroad, a process of applications and appeals that can last 8 months.

Baker goes on to state that he is weary of the attempts by some Americans to duplicate the Canadian single-payer healthcare system, saying, "where will I send my people will be waiting two and three years for surgery, I'll have nowhere to send Canadians."

The Lemon

The Lemon draws parallels between collectivized healthcare systems and the East German Trabant, a noisy, inefficient, underpowered automobile that remained a symbol of communist inefficiency and lack of ingenuity, mostly unchanged for nearly thirty years. East Germans would typically have to wait 8 years to receive their own Trabant, an unappealing vehicle that lacked even basic features, like fuel gauges.

Like East Germans waiting for their Trabants, the movie implies, so too do Canadians like Shirley Healey wait for life-saving treatment. Ms. Healey suffered from mesenteric ischemia, and was unable to obtain prompt treatment, being told she'd have to wait about 2 months. Her doctor, Robert W. Ellett, M.D., having seen another patient with the same condition die after waiting 3 months, urged Ms. Healey to seek medical treatment in the U.S. Dr. Ellett explained that while there were a sufficient number of rooms in the local ICU near her in British Columbia to receive her and other patients after surgery, many of them sit empty, because "they're not funded rooms."

Ms. Healey did pay for her operation in Washington, and doctors there found that her artery was nearly completely blocked, a life-threatening condition that would have caused her intestines to perfuse inadequately, leading her to, in essence, starve to death.


The Free Market Cure Wikipedia