Roger Wesiberg’s Critical Condition is a powerful, eye-opening look at the health care crisis in America. The film lays out the human consequences of an increasingly expensive and inaccessible system. Using the cinéma vérité style, Weisberg allows ordinary hard-working Americans to tell their harrowing stories of battling critical illnesses without health insurance.
The four people profiled in the film live in three diverse locations—Los Angeles, California, Austin, Texas, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania—but face distressingly similar obstacles to surviving without health insurance. It is through their eyes and words that we are taken through the gaping holes in the health care system, where care is often delayed or denied. Ultimately, the unforgettable subjects of Critical Condition discover that being uninsured can cost them their jobs, health, homes, savings, and even their lives.
Critical Condition dramatizes how health care is rationed based on ability to pay. “It’s your money or your life,” says one of the film’s subjects, who courageously lays bare the uncounted cost in pain and suffering that is borne by millions of uninsured Americans.
Producer, director, and writer Roger Weisberg formed Public Policy Productions1982. After four years as a staff producer for Thirteen/WNET, the New York public television station, Weisberg launched this independent production company to extend the reach and impact of his documentary productions.
He has produced twenty-nine documentaries on subjects ranging from health care, aging, and the environment to defense policy, child welfare, adolescent sexuality, and criminal justice. All have aired in prime time on PBS in the U.S. and several were sold to television markets around the world and were extensively distributed in the home video market and educational market worldwide.
Weisberg’s documentaries have won over one hundred awards including Peabody, Emmy, and duPont-Columbia awards. Some of the films are verite style documentaries with no narration. Others are hosted and narrated by prominent actors including Meryl Streep, Helen Hayes, and James Earl Jones, as well as distinguished journalists including Marvin Kalb, Jane Pauley, and Walter Cronkite. Weisberg’s 1993 documentary, ROAD SCHOLAR, and his 1999 documentary, SOUND AND FURY, had broad theatrical releases before airing on PBS. Weisberg received an Academy Award nomination in 2000 for SOUND AND FURY and in 2003 for WHY CAN'T WE BE A FAMILY AGAIN?
His productions include WAGING A LIVING about low-wage workers struggling to achieve the elusive American dream, ROSEVELT’S AMERICA about the efforts of a Liberian refugee to build a new life for his family in America, AGING OUT about teens that leave foster care and suddenly discover that they’re on their own, and WITH NO DIRECTION HOME about the efforts of an abused and neglected teenager to take control of his life and CRITICAL CONDITION about the nation's health insurance crisis.
Angel, Ronald, Laura Lein, and Jane Henrici. Poor Families in America's Health Care Crisis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Examines the implications of the United States' fragmented and two-tiered health insurance system on low-income families' access to health care.
Cohn, Jonathan. Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis --- and the People Who Pay the Price. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007.
Drawing on his travels through major cities and small towns across the U.S., Cohn presents examples of how the state of the country's health care system affects real people, from a historical context.
Derickson, Alan. Health Security for All: Dreams of Universal Health Care in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.
Explores the origins and development of the idea of universal health care in America since the late 19th century.
Grover, Jan. Healthcare. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2007.
Articles, book excerpts, historical documents and other material present opposing arguments about health care in the United States. Sections look at policymakers.
The Economics of Health Care
WNYC's Political Director Andrea Bernstein interviews Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt and filmmaker Roger Weisberg about the candidates' health care plans, the lessons the United States might learn from the experiences of other countries with universal health insurance and how rising health care costs are affecting the U.S. economy.