The Waiting Room is a 2012 documentary about life in a hospital emergency room in Oakland, CA. The situs of this emergency room is Oakland’s Highland Hospital, which Wikipedia calls a safety-net hospital, i.e., the place where uninsured people go to receive free medical care – a/k/a county or public hospitals. If ObamaCare succeeds (with everyone becoming insured), these hospitals should become more like other hospitals because virtually everyone will be insured.
The film was exceedingly well received by critics, with 100% of the 32 critics on Rotten Tomatoes liking it. The audience reception was a bit less, at 76%. I agree with the critics because the movie was surprisingly balanced. There are no heroes and no villains. The customers are real and not particularly sympathetic. The employees are neither jaded nor Pollyannaish; instead, they are trying to do the best they can with what they have.
Even though there is nothing overtly political about The Waiting Room, the unavoidable conclusion that most viewers will come to is that something needs to be done to ensure that the uninsured are treated more efficiently and humanely in America. But, as Libertarian John Stossel has warned, most people have a troubling tendency to respond to any bad situation with the comment, “government needs to do something about that.” Well, government can’t prevent all bad situations if it intends to protect an individual’s right to be self-reliant. County hospitals seem to create the right balance between individual self-reliance and societal safety-net.
So, ultimately, my position on self-reliance vis-à-vis government beneficence is unchanged, but now I have some faces in mind along with abstract concepts.