Doco Of The Week: Sick Around America

7:10pm Wednesday, September 30 on TVNZ 7

Sick Around America investigates the stories of Americans whose lives have become a quest to find and keep health insurance.

At its best, American health care can be very good. For Microsoft employee Mark Murray and his wife, Melinda, their employee health plan paid for eight years of fertility treatments and covered all the costs of a very complicated pregnancy.

“If it wasn’t for our health insurance,” says Murray, “we wouldn’t have a baby boy right now.” The Murrays’ medical bills totalled between $500,000 and $1 million, and their plan covered every penny.

But beyond large, high-wage employers like Microsoft, access to available, affordable, adequate insurance is becoming hard to find. Small businesses face a very bleak outlook for finding and keeping coverage, and this coverage is becoming more expensive and less comprehensive, with high deductibles, co-pays and coverage limits.

Georgetown University Research Professor, Karen Pollitz, explains that for many people, the current system is, “like having an airbag in your car that’s made out of tissue paper: I’m so glad that it’s there, but if I ever get in a crash, it’s not going to protect me.”

Veteran producer Jon Palfreman dissects the private insurance system, a system that not only fails to cover 46 million Americans but also leaves millions more underinsured and at risk of bankruptcy.

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