“Frankly, Michael Moore is an example of why the health care system costs so much in this country. He clearly is one of the reasons that we have a very expensive system. I know that from my own personal experience,” said Huckabee, who lost more than 110 pounds and became an avid runner after he was diagnosed with diabetes.
“I know how much more my health care cost when I didn’t take care of myself than when I do take care of myself, not only in terms of doctor visits but regular diseases, illnesses, chronic things that come up, monthly prescription bills,” Huckabee said. “All of those things have gone dramatically down since I’ve taken care of myself and worked to live a healthier lifestyle.”
No comment could be obtained from Moore, but Meghan O’Hara, producer of “Sicko,” questioned Huckabee’s motives in criticizing Moore.
“Looks like Mike Huckabee is auditioning for some insurance company dough, since he’s raised just about no money and sparked zero interest since jumping into the race,” O’Hara said in a response provided by Moore’s production office. “I wonder what the good governor would say to the French, who drink more, smoke more, eat more cheese and still live longer than us despite paying less for health care?”
Advantage: Huckabee. Feel free to correct this non-expert in the comments, but from what I read the real experts find very little correlation between the various health care systems used in the Western world and longevity, and attribute the (relatively small) differences in longevity to lifestyle factors, with obesity being the primary disproportionate “health sin” in the U.S.
Anecdotally, I know Israelis have great longevity, despite, from what I can tell, is a relatively poor (and very unequal, because the wealthy use private insurance) health care system, and despite a high percentage of ultra-Orthodox and Arabs with very large families living in general poverty and ignorance.
If Moore’s “people” have any evidence that the French’s longevity is due to their health care system and is despite an overall worse lifestyle profile than Americans’, I’d love to see it. (Indeed, drinking more is likely correlated with better health if more people drink, but there are fewer alcoholics. And cheese, per se, isn’t harmful, and has some dairy-related health benefits.)
Moreover, O’Hara’s retort is not directly on point, since Huckabee raised the issue of health care costs, not longevity. Smokers, some have argued, actually save the system money by dying young of a signature disease. The morbidly obese tend to have lots of chronic health problems, like diabetes.
The American health care system can use all sorts of improvements, but I doubt anything on the table, much less Moore’s favored single-payer system, will improve Americans’ health more than it would be improved if we cut the rate of gross obesity by 2/3. My esteem for Mr. Moore would rise significantly (from an admittedly low base), if his next film encouraged Americans to take more responsibility for their health, and he led by example. And I say all this as someone who could stand to lose a few.