Jonathon Ross, MD, MPH, past president of Physicians for a National Health Program:
Have you seen the ads or the trailer for the movie John Q? Denzel Washington plays a man whose son needs a transplant and ends up going postal when he is told that it is not a covered benefit. I was at the movies when the trailer played.
The trailer finishes with DW holding a hostage and a negotiator saying to him, "How is this going to end, John?"
I couldn't help saying out loud at the end of these words at the end of the trailer, "National Health Insurance!"
And the audience of about 100 broke into cheers.
Comment: "John Q" opens at theaters today. It has already provoked considerable discussion. Today's reviews by movie critics are a mix. Some criticize it for using stereotyped characters with predictable behavior. Some criticize dramatizing the use of a violent response (using a gun to take hostages) for a very serious social issue (our failed system of paying for health care). But others clearly acknowledge that the message is very
real, that the crisis in insurance coverage today literally threatens lives (though normally much more subtly than in this portrayal).
Discussion of this film has moved from the entertainment section to the news section of the media. And it is the message of the insurance crisis that is being discussed. The anticipated impact is great enough that the American Association of Health Plans is conducting an advertising campaign to deflect the blame to others.
While we need to be sensitive to the fact that violence is used to represent the intensity of the desperation of this fictional father, nevertheless, the nation will be discussing this film and the insurance crisis it portrays. We need to be there to show them that we do have a solution: comprehensive care for everyone with no increase in costs, through single payer health care
For those that have the QuickTime 5 program, the John Q trailer can be viewed at: http://www.apple.com/trailers/newline/john_q.html