The March 2006 incident was widely documented. This May, Kaiser Permanente, the country's biggest health maintenance organization, reached a settlement with Los Angeles prosecutors requiring Kaiser to make changes to end the dumping of homeless patients on streets.
Los Angeles authorities are investigating allegations that a dozen area hospitals have dumped more than 50 homeless patients downtown. Last month, prosecutors filed civil complaints against two other hospitals and a transportation service accusing them of dumping homeless patients in Skid Row.
TOP EXECS' SALARIES
In the movie, Moore correctly states that the chief executives of health insurance companies make millions of dollars a year.
Among the insurers mentioned are Humana Inc., where chief executive Michael McCallister received about $5.9 million in salary and other compensation in 2006, and Aetna Inc., where chief executive Ronald Williams last year received salary and other compensation totaling about $30.9 million. Those figures were determined by an AP analysis of company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Huge executive salaries are the norm in all of corporate America. An AP analysis of 386 Fortune 500 companies' executive compensa- tion reports showed that half the CEOs made more than $8.3 million last year.
In the film, an insurance company call center employee says her company has a list of preexisting conditions that would ''wrap around this house.'' The conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer, make applicants ineligible for coverage. Numerous disorders then scroll up a black screen in yellow letters -- think of the Star Wars movie introductions.
Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive of the trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, said Moore does not identify the plan involved but that it is not a typical one. She said about 17 million people in the United States are insured under individual plans and an additional 200 million under group plans.
''If that list were true, none of those people would be getting health insurance,'' Ignagni said. She said decisions about which treatments are covered by a plan are made by the sponsor, such as an employer, not by the insurer.
Moore also takes on the notion that universal health coverage leads to longer waits in hospital emergency rooms and to see doctors.
He visited a crowded emergency room in Canada and asked patients how long they had to wait. One said 20 minutes; a second said 45 minutes. ''I got help right away,'' a third said. Yet a recent report from the Commonwealth Fund indicates that wait times in the United States are clearly shorter than they are in Canada.
In all areas measured, the United States fared better than Canada.
For example, 24 percent of Canadians waited four hours or longer to be seen in the emergency room versus 12 percent in the United States. The difference was more acute when it came time to see a specialist. Fifty-seven percent of Canadians waited four weeks or longer to see a specialist versus 23 percent in the United States.
The Commonwealth Fund also monitored wait times in Britain, which has universal healthcare. The wait times for emergency-room care were comparable to those in the United States. There was a big difference when it came time to see a specialist: 60 percent in Britain waited a month or more.
The film concludes with a trip to Cuba, where Moore seeks care for a group of workers who have experienced health problems after responding to 2001 terrorist attacks. They are greeted with open arms at a hospital in Havana and given what appears to be top-notch care that they could not get in the United States.
The question left for viewers to ponder is whe- ther Cubans are given such red carpet treatment, too.