Healthcare: Your Money or Your Life (1978)

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Healthcare: Your Money or Your Life was and remains the first and best documentary on the economic problems that plague America's healthcare system. In its time, it was a telling indictment of the commodification of human life and one of many documentaries produced on video for public television. Healthcare takes as its subject two New York City hospitals which treat 1 out of every 200 Americans, Kings County Hospitals, an under-funded state supported institution, and Downstate Medical Center, a private health care facility. Located directly across the street from one another, they are miles apart when it comes to resources, patients and money. Partially what makes the documentary so riveting is that we see the disparities between the hospitals play out through the lives of New York City's poor. In one such case, we watch as an emergency room doctor can't figure out if a patient is dying because the EKG is broken. After trying to insert a pacemaker, the patient dies, on camera. Which leads us to the other riveting aspect: that the film had total access to both hospital's staff and facilities. And the staff speaks openly on camera which gives the film a degree of honesty that would not be possible in today's lawsuit conscious healthcare environment.