The Waiting Room - Playing the waiting game

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Thankful. Thankful is the first word that comes to mind when I think about The Waiting Room film that I saw at the Cinematheque on Wednesday. The film is set inside an Oakland hospital waiting room and follows several people’s stories as they try to find out a cure for their ailment.

Some stories last the entire movie such as a young girl who has a severe case of strep throat and her seemingly separated parents who don’t have a lot of money. The father said on camera that he didn’t have enough money to even take the bus to go see his daughter the day before to check up on her.

Other stories are brief. A trauma comes into the hospital something like a shooting and you see the doctors frantically trying whatever they can to revive this person. They switch out CPR duty while others are checking his vitals and trying to find a way to save him. They continue right up until the very end when they’re forced to call the time of death. He was 15 years-old.

Throughout the movie I kept thinking to myself, how many times have I walked into emergency at a hospital, got checked/glued up (cut my finger once), and then was on my merry way without the worrying about how am I going to pay for this all? I didn’t have to worry I’m covered but most if not all of the patients in the waiting room have no insurance.

It’s enough to worry about if you’re going to make it out healthy but afterwards to think about how you’re going to pay all this when your income isn’t even enough to pay your rent is just another added layer.

Why is health care different in Canada compared to the US? Here’s quote from THE CANADIAN AND AMERICAN HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS article written by Odette Madore, published by the Government of Canada in 1992.

“The American system is based on the assumption that the vast majority of people are perfectly capable of providing protection for themselves against illness and its consequences and that most of the population are not denied care for financial reasons.”

In the United States it’s about choice and how much or how little coverage a particular person wants in terms of health insurance. In many cases throughout the film when it came time to pay the film made sure to bring attention to a person’s lack of insurance.

Stats taken from the “The Canadian and American Health Care Systems: Funding and Effectiveness” written  by Philippe Le Goff, published by the Parliamentary Information and Research Service Library of Parliament showed that 69.9% of total health care expenditures in Canada are from public spending compared to the United States which is 45.9%. This puts a much bigger emphasis on private insurance in the states as there is much less money coming from the public that is going towards health care. So big in fact that private health care spending accounts for 8% of the United States’ Gross domestic product (GDP) which is essentially the market value of a good or service within a country. In Canada private spending makes up for 3% of our GDP.

The Waiting Room isn’t a very happy movie; there are shining characters such as the nurse/receptionist, who is an absolute darling, which everyone first meets when they get to the waiting room. For the most part The Waiting Room maintains a somber tone because a waiting room isn’t a happy place, an emergency room isn’t Disneyland, it’s a place to find out what the heck is wrong with you and hopefully fix it.

So I’m thankful that I don’t have to worry about paying and thankful for all the stress that hospital employees deal with everyday so that we as a society can stay healthy.