As he navigates this much-debated topic, Michael compares the medical coverage of insured Americans to the care received by residents of other Western nations with "socialized," universal healthcare systems. In countries such as Canada, France and the United Kingdom, patients do not have to pay medical fees out-of-pocket—healthcare is a government service.
According to the film, America's healthcare system is ranked 37th in the world. "When I saw that, [I thought]—I'm an American. I live in the greatest country on earth. I live in the wealthiest country on earth. We're number 37?" Michael says.
Sicko emphasizes that even American patients who have health insurance cannot always afford treatments because their claims can be denied—and Michael wanted to get people talking about it. "I think [there are] 250 million [insured] people thinking that, 'Well, everything's going to be fine,' [but] how many people have actually read their health insurance policy?" Michael says.