Movie Review: The hospital is under new management now! Free health care for everyone!

john q

“My son is dying, and I’m broke. If I don’t qualify for Medicare, WHO THE HELL DOES?” Could you imagine being a parent who is about to lose a child if you do not come up a quarter of a million dollars in twenty four hours? As a hardworking man John, struggling to take care of his wife and son. On a normal day in the park playing ball, Michael (John’s son) suddenly collapse. After being rushed to the hospital John and his wife discovers that Mike has a heart failure and needs a transplant in order to live and that transplant will cost their family over $250,000. There will be a $75,000 deposit which will only place Michael on the transplant list an there is no guarantee that there will be a match. After having their car reposed and working part time hours you can imagine how hard this will be to come up with. John Q tries picking up a second job and his wife sells some of her precious belongings, this still does not add up to even half of the amount needed. After feeling like he is facing the impossible John Q takes the emergency room hostage in hopes of forcing doctors to perform the transplant on his son. During that emergency room takeover John Q does make sure that all the patients receive the proper care. Surprisingly he becomes friends with those that he had hostages.  John never wanted to start any trouble he just wanted his son to receive transplant surgery. I chose this movie because it addresses the power in healthcare and how a person’s race and background can have an impact on the treatment you may or may not receive. This movie was emotional, thought-provoking, captivating, and relevant to helping carry out the topics discussed during this course.

In watching John Q we must acknowledge that race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status has an impact on the health care one receives. This family is Low income African Americans living in the urban city of Chicago. In the movie we see how these factors have play a huge role in America. For example, we see in the movie a Caucasian male and his wife after receiving a heart transplant joke around with the surgeon about tennis and it frustrates John because he knows that he is not getting the same treatment because he does not have the same type of money or is not of the same background. As we have discussed in this course America has made it very difficult for those who are minorities and does not have much money to have a voice in healthcare. “Our genes and ethnicity effects our health because our lived experiences as someone in a dominant group or in a group that experiences discrimination, or in a group that experiences unequal access to resources absolutely impacts our health” (Gabriel 2016). This was prevalent in the movie John Q as we saw the inability to have access to certain resources such as money, community support, etc. negatively impacts the health of an individual. In the movie Michael was about to be put out of the hospital because he had none of those resources even despite the little funds his father had paid for his care.

As we are all aware ethnicity is about sharing similar practices belonging to a common nationality this can have an effect on your health. According to E. Crimmins, the role of socioeconomic status is related to ethnicity and plays a factor in terms of health. Those who have different social statuses have greater health outcomes due to upbringing conditions. Living conditions, education, and the environment around you has an impact on one’s health. Crimmins mentions studies that documented blacks lower socioeconomic status has a relation to poor health outcomes. As we can learn from the movie John Q this has confirmed those studies.

While watching John Q I must say I thought a lot about the Hmong culture. As we learned during lecture the Hmong were very hostile with standing up for their beliefs much like John Q took extreme measures by taking over the emergency room to be sure that his son received transplant surgery. Also I was able to connect the treatment how Americans treated Hmong to the way in which John Q and his family were being treated. The doctors gave John’s family the facts and left them to figure it out on their own similar to what happen to the Hmong post war.

For the many connections I would suggest that this film be used in future ANP 370 courses. I think that John Q will expand the thinking and understanding of health care. Much like the refugee video/ exercise I think this will be a good movie to engaging responses about the treatment of minorities receiving health care treatment. This will also be a great movie in discussing the different methods of treatment. John Q shows some of the American way of medicine in which I think will be a great time to have conversation about of health treatments from various cultures. One thing I realized after watching this movie again was that in 2002 health care was not free to all and now in 2016 we have free health care to all Americans. As a matter of fact mandatory health care for all Americans; something to consider when watching this movie. I think this will be a great addition to future any Medical Anthropology course.



Understanding Race and Ethnicity in Medicine. Directed by Cynthia Gabriel. 2016. Accessed August 15, 2016.


Crimmins, Eileen M. “Critical Perspectives on Racial and Ethnic Differences in Health in Late Life.” (2004): Accessed August 15, 2016


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