Frontline: Sick Around America (2009)

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Many of my readers (self included) use these days to catch up with watching movies or documentaries, reading books etc. Since laying on the couch  and watching something is easier, we’ll do this. The recommended show is a documentary I’ve seen some months ago on Netflix, titled “Frontline: Sick Around America“.

In my country the medical system is in shambles. We have dirty hospitals, doctors who earn very little so expect bribes, people who don’t do their job and people who DIE in the hospitals, while no one takes the blame. We don’t have the good habit of suing them for this and, even if we did, the Justice is corrupted, slow and incompetent. This is why many of us are currently seeing medical treatment in other countries or get prepared to PAY a lot for their services.

You can imagine that, seeing all those medical dramas: Private Practice, House MD, Grey’s Anatomy, we just imagine how wonderful Health is in the US and how fortunate these people are there. And then I talk to my friend in NYC who’s telling me a “simple” birth (just an epidural and it was all over in 4 hours) cost her 14,000 dollars (she’s insured, but still), the knee surgery her husband had years ago was 60 grand and so on. Wow, that’s a lot of money.

The good thing for them was that insurance paid almost everything. The bad thing is they have insanely high premiums.

The documentary sheds even more light onto the health system in the US. We find out the insurance companies have a lot of power and can really ruin your life. A happy case, in the documentary, is Mark Murray, who’s working at Microsoft and has an excellent health insurance. This allowed his wife, Melinda, to undergo fertility treatments and get through a very complicated pregnancy. The medical bills were almost 1 million dollars high, fortunately for them Microsoft covered it all.

Unfortunately NOT ALL employers can afford such health plans, so most people who work in small firms get a very small coverage. Some young people are forced to work in job that are not adequate to their expertise, just for a better health plan. Some had to ditch college to work in a grocery store, some are forced to live in an unhappy marriage, just because divorcing their spouse would mean divorcing a good health plan.

Getting private insurance shows even more of the system’s flaws. For this the citizen needs to submit to a “medical underwriting”. If you’re not 100% healthy, you have huge changes of being denied. Those who are accepted and PAY the premiums each month still need to worry. Because sometimes the insurance company denies your claim just because they find “something” in your file, even if they approved you before.

The doctors are some of the best paid in the world and still consider themselves underpaid. The insurance companies are almost a state in the state and do whatever they please, while tens of thousands Americans go bankrupt because of the system.

At least in my country we don’t sell all our belongings just because of huge medical bills of having insurance companies screwing you as they please.

It’s a great documentary to watch, hope you’ll enjoy.

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