The subject of health care has been top tier in American politics the past few years, but a seldom-discussed facet is the impact on individuals’ lives when they do not have regular health care or decent insurance. The makers of Remote Area Medical devoted an entire feature documentary to that topic, going to a clinic in Appalachia to see the lives of those who do not regularly receive medical attention.
“If you haven’t seen a dentist in 20 years, you can’t get a job or take care of family,” said co-director Farihah Zaman. “You don’t have pride on yourself. It impacts your desire to work and take care of yourself. There are deeper consequences than physical pain.”
The film follows the group Remote Area Medical as it runs a three-day clinic in Bristol, Tennessee. The group was originally set up to bring health care to places like the Amazon, but has found as much need in poor areas of the U.S., and the short clinic ended up seeing 2,000 in three days.
Co-director Jeff Reichert said the film in the end was as much about the working poor in America as it was about healthcare policy. “To see all the people who fall into that spectrum—we saw people who are managers of stores, but that is not enough to get basic health care and dental care,” he said. That was a shock to us.
You can listen to a full interview with Zaman which we did in the Filmmakers Lounge at this year’s Sarasota Film Festival, recorded in partnership with WSRQ.