On this week’s Movies vs. Capitalism, hosts Rivka Rivera and Frank Cappello are joined by former Ohio state senator and congressional candidate Nina Turner for a heartfelt discussion about the Denzel Washington health insurance drama John Q.

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A rough transcript of the episode is available here.

John Q is the story of father and husband John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington) who holds an emergency room hostage after learning his health insurance won’t cover his young son’s heart transplant. Even though the film was made in 2002, its message and themes remain as relevant as ever.

The American health care system is a nightmare. As of 2023, the U.S. remains the only industrialized nation that does not provide universal health coverage to its citizens, despite being the wealthiest country in the world. The U.S. spends three to four times more on health care than other wealthy countries, while its citizens face worse health outcomes, such as the highest rates of deaths from avoidable or treatable causes and the highest maternal and infant death rates. Medical bills are the most common reason for bankruptcy, and nearly 45,000 Americans die every year due to a lack of health insurance coverage.

During the film discussion, Turner shares her personal experience with the American health care system and explores the country’s desperate need for universal health care. The team also unpacks how the health care industry dehumanizes both patients and doctors, and how the film’s moral portrayal of John Q leads to even his hostages feeling sympathy for their captor.
For next week’s movie, MVC will be watching the 1983 comedy classic Trading Places.

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