After having watched Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 movie, Super Size Me, where he lives on McDonald’s Fast Food for a month, I was interested to see last night, the first episode of his new series called 30 Days.
In this first episode Morgan and his fiancee Alex lived for 30 days in Columbus, Ohio working minimum-wage jobs. Needless to say the results were pretty predictable in that the amount they earned was barely enough to live on, and they had to rely in part on Salvation Army help, and a Church run organisation called the Westside Free Store which provided them with basic furniture such as a bed, table and chair for their appartment. However what was particularly shocking was that during the month, both of them had medical problems that necessitated a visit to the hospital, and the financial impact of those visits.
Now I know the British complain a lot about the NHS, but I think periodically it is worthwhile watching something like this to realise that whatever problems we may have, at least we have a system where you’re not effectively punished for getting ill. Morgan and his fiancee were charged $500 and $300 respectively just for being seen, Morgan’s bill even included a $40 charge for a bandage. Bearing in mind that the minimum wage for which they were working was $5.15 an hour, and you start to see the magnitude of the costs in comparison to their pay. Whatever problems there may be with our system with long waiting lists, financial troubles or whatever, the NHS in the UK still remains a system that is largely free. I can turn up at my local doctor, or a hospital casualty department and I’m not going to need to take a credit card.
The rest of the series looks like it has some interesting subjects too, with a couple featuring devout Christians – one with seemingly offensive views of Islam spending 30 days living as a Muslim, and another who spends 30 days living in a predominantly gay area of San Francisco.