50/50… but not for 50 million

Recently I saw the movie 50/50, the inspired-by-a-true story of a young man diagnosed with cancer, and of the ways he and his friends and family deal with it. It’s a comedy, though as one might expect, it’s not without drama.

The film was good. But one elephant-sized, real-life component of the ordeal was missing: the cost of it all. Of course a person’s time and emotional reservoir would be fully tapped simply dealing with chemotherapy, possible surgery, appointments, telling people, dealing with their reactions, not to mention dealing with one’s own. But what U.S. American faces an intense medical experience without some thought to paying for it?

The protagonist was employed at a public radio station, which presumably offers health insurance to its employees. Even so, insurance is hardly a guarantee of affordable treatment. And as we know, there are at least 50 million US Americans who don’t even have that.

This isn’t only about accuracy. It could be a side-splitter too. Wouldn’t the bureaucratic nightmare of US health care — HMOs, voicemail labyrinths, hieroglyphic invoices, encyclopedia-sized user’s manuals, government assistance and lack thereof, contradicting and often cruel decisions — be a gold mine for dark comedy?

I’m no more enlightened than anyone about how best to tweak, overhaul, or resurrect our health care system, though I have my opinions and theories. But I do know that most people really don’t want to hear any more about how much it sucks. Another documentary about how screwed we are is not going to spark much productive debate, I’ll wager. The only people who would eagerly watch it would be the people one seeks to avoid at parties, those who find diatribes and misery enjoyable. But a comedy could be just the sugar-coated pill the doctor ordered. To revitalize passion for change. To suggest creative and madcap ways to protest, upend, or even just pierce through the system until we find some beating hearts in there, open to releasing rules, cutting away the web, maybe even dropping a few pennies.

Yikes. This is already fomenting too much hope. I can just feel disappointment licking its chops, ready to rush in when nothing materializes out of this obscure blog post. But still I dream. And of course, someday, somewhere, something’s going to change.

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