I don’t agree with Romney and Obama health care advisor Jonathan Gruber that Americans are stupid, but there is abundant evidence that we’re incredibly gullible. And we’re paying a big price for it. For the latest evidence, check out the documentary Remote Area Medical, which opens in select theaters across the country this coming Friday.
We’ve been told over and over again by politicians and flacks — including me in my previous career — that we have the world’s best health care system. As I explained in Deadly Spin, if you continue to believe that no other country could possibly have a better system than ours, it’s because of the overwhelmingly successful PR campaign my former colleagues and I carried out over decades.
The purpose of that campaign — a campaign that’s ongoing, by the way — is to protect the profitable status quo by obscuring an empirical truth: that when it comes to access to affordable health care, millions of Americans might as well be living in a third world country. And that’s still true today, more than four years after Obamacare became law.
Although the Affordable Care Act is helping people find coverage that doesn’t bust the family budget, more than 30 million of us are still uninsured because the law doesn’t bring down the cost of insurance nearly enough.
You will meet a few of those millions in Remote Area Medical, which is named after the organization that former TV star Stan Brock founded 30 years ago to fly doctors to remote villages along the Amazon.
“Welcome to America,” Brock says early in the film as thousands of people wait patiently in long lines at the Bristol Motor Speedway in East Tennessee.
During many weekends in the spring and summer, tens of thousands of fans fill the seats at this racetrack, one of NASCAR’s biggest. But over three days in late April or early May every year, the Speedway is transformed into an enormous pop-up health clinic.
People start arriving days early and sleep in their cars and trucks in the vast parking lot in hopes of getting one of the numbers Brock hands out before dawn each day the clinic is in operation. Inside are doctors, dentists and other caregivers who have volunteered their time to treat the thousands of men, women and children, many of whom have driven hundreds of miles — and all of whom have fallen through the big cracks that continue to differentiate the U.S. health care system from those in every other developed country.