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The curious adoption of John Q

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 02 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:551
  1. Gavin Yamey, deputy editor (
  1. wjm—Western Journal of Medicine

    US health insurers seek to show that they really care

    In John Q, a Hollywood blockbuster that topped the US box office on its opening weekend, it is not too difficult to spot the bad guys.

    Denzel Washington plays John Q Archibald, a factory worker and regular guy who is doing all he can to support his wife and son. One day, the boy keels over while playing little league baseball, and only an emergency heart transplant can save him.

    But there's a big problem. John's dastardly health insurers won't cover the costs of the operation. Unknown to John, his employer-sponsored health plan had been downgraded. The plan, says the hospital administrator, does not cover “a procedure of this magnitude.”

    Time is running out. And so the increasingly distraught father takes the emergency room hostage, demanding that the cardiac surgeon performs the transplant. Dad may not have a great health plan, but he has a fantastic gun.

    Why has John Q, released in the United States on 15 February, captured the …

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