The movie John Q (2002) starring Denzel Washington shocked many. Specially those ‘privileged few’ leading the hegemony of the healthcare system in America. John Q is the story of a family struggling to make ends meet. John Archibald (Denzel Washington) works at a factory, where “his work time is cut to half due to recession . ” But matters get worse when his son Mike collapses in a football game and the family discovers that Mike needs a new heart. From here on the movie exposes the cult like American healthcare system that literally offers no help to an ordinary citizen.
Expecting help from the local hospitals, what they get is a most disinterested response. Archibald is asked to pay up to $75,000 just to have his son’s name on the donor list. The operation in itself will cost him a whooping $250,000. In desperation, he goes through his insurance papers to discover that his insurance does not cover this procedure. Eventually, the emotionally charged father is forced to take matters into his own hands – he holds a ward at the hospital at gunpoint, till his son is given the treatment he deserves, and the doctors agree to perform the operation.
John Q undeniably reveals the true picture of the American healthcare system. Access to decent healthcare is only for the rich few. For the rest of the millions of middle class Americans, proper healthcare remains a distant dream. It also reveals the monopoly behind the insurance circle – an exploitive brutal system that caters only to the elite. The cost of insurance too is very high, which means that only the rich can afford it. The common man thus, has little or no insurance.
“Most critics have panned John Q, arguing that the story is manipulative and not “real” enough and that director Nick Cassavetes is propagandizing for nationalized health care . ” But Cassavetes style, and the dramtic intense scenes bring the reality of HMO’s to light. “A health maintenance organization (HMO) is a type of managed care organization (MCO) that provides a form of health insurance coverage in the United States that is fulfilled through hospitals, doctors, and other providers with which the HMO has a contract . ” But HMO’s have often been the topic of heated debates, and generally, have a negative public opinion.
Proponents of the system claim it is good, giving access to low-cost insurance to many, while critics claim that it is a major cause of medical malpractice and criminal negligence which often goes unnoticed . This is becaise HMO’s give much more importance to the practitioner than they do to the patient . The movie also highlights the legal issue, and how it drives the cost of healthcare. “A report from a San Francisco-based think tank found that the practice of defensive medicine, caused by fear of litigation, raises the cost of health care by $124 billion per year . ” Medical procedures altogether become too cost prohibitive.
Only the affluent can afford them. John Q is also a strong commentary on medical ethics, which have been bluntly exposed in the blatant, uncaring characters of the doctor (James Wood) and the hospital’s administrator (Anne Heche). Both are rather extreme in their roles, but are significant characters, reprsenting the money-minting exploitive minds behind the health care system in America. John Q also brings up the issue of the under-insured or the insured in America. Those who have full insurance are leading a different life altogether; they have access to the best medical facilities and healthcare.
But those unlucky ones with little insurance, or insurance that does not cover medical procedures, or worse still no insurance have literally nothing to fall back on. The cost of medicine, as already claimed by many is insanely high in America. Medical procedure like the one in the movie may range anywhere between $200,000 to $400,000 – an amount that is impossible to collect for an ordinary civilian. Even though many film critics claim the movie was an exaggerated emotional drama, there is no doubt that it highlighted a very important issue in America. This issue of the healthcare system, till today, stands unsolved.
Works Cited: 1.
Lalasz, Elizabeth, Socialist Worker Online, John Q: A movie for our side (March 1, 2002), retrieved from http://www. socialistworker. org/2002-1/396/396_09_JohnQ. shtml 2. Wise Geek, What is an HMO? Retrieved from http://www. wisegeek. com/what-is-an-hmo. htm 3.
Contemporary OB/GYN, Report finds legal system increases cost of health care, Aug. 1, 2007, retrieved from http://www. contemporaryobgyn. net/obgyn/Professional+Update/Report-finds-legal-system-increases-cost-of-health/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/448486? contextCategoryId=42515 4. Wikipedia, Health Maintenance Organization, retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/HMO.