Tuesday, September 30, 2008
What happens if you fall sick and are one of 47 million people in America without health insurance? “Critical Condition” by Roger Weisberg (“Waging a Living,” P.O.V. 2006) puts a human face on the nation’s growing health care crisis by capturing the harrowing struggles of four critically ill Americans who discover that being uninsured can cost them their jobs, health, home, savings, even their lives. Filmed in vérité style, “Critical Condition” offers a moving and invaluable exposé at a time when the nation is debating how to extend health insurance to all Americans.
Roger Weisberg's Critical Condition is a powerful, eye-opening look at the health care crisis in America. In an election season when health care reform has become one of the nation's most hotly debated issues, Critical Condition lays out the human consequences of an increasingly expensive and inaccessible system. Using the same cinema verite style he employed with Waging a Living (P.O.V., 2006), Weisberg allows ordinary hard-working Americans to tell their harrowing stories of battling critical illnesses without health insurance.
The four people profiled in Critical Condition live in places as diverse as Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; and Bethlehem, Penn., but they face distressingly similar obstacles to surviving without health insurance. It is through their eyes and words that we are taken through the gaping holes in the health care system, where care is often delayed or denied. Ultimately, the unforgettable subjects of Critical Condition discover that being uninsured can cost them their jobs, health, homes, savings, and even their lives.
Critical Condition dramatizes how health care is rationed based on ability to pay. "It's your money or your life," says one of the film's subjects, who courageously lays bare the uncounted cost in pain and suffering that is borne by millions of uninsured Americans
As the film illustrates, the country spends over $2 trillion a year — over $6,000 per person — on health care, yet is the only major industrial nation without universal coverage. Forty-seven million Americans live without health insurance, and 80 percent of them are from working families who either cannot afford insurance premiums or lose their insurance exactly when they need it most: when they fall ill and can no longer work.
Despite spending 50 percent more on health care than any other country in the world, America ranks 15th in preventable death, 24th in life expectancy, and 28th in infant mortality. The struggles of the four families profiled in Critical Condition put a human face on just what these statistics really mean for ordinary Americans.