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The Nightmare of Not Having Healthcare When You’re Sick

Mar 20, 2018 | 831 videos
Video by Ryan Booth

Filmmaker Ryan Booth was idly scrolling through his Instagram feed when he saw something that stopped him in his tracks. It was a picture of his friend, Michael Stevenson, in the ICU. “I was completely shocked,” Booth told The Atlantic. “Like most of Mike’s friends and acquaintances, I had no clue that he had been sick.” Booth then contacted Stevenson to check in.

“Thanks for letting me chase you down...” Those are some of the first words they exchanged, which Booth recorded. Booth was “so profoundly moved” by his friend’s story that he asked for permission to make a movie about him. Ten Days: A Modern Success Story begins as Stevenson, an altruistic entrepreneur, leaves his full-time job and chases success; by the end, it is a devastating story of how capitalism and the modern healthcare system failed one man.

“Making a film about something so personal was an enormous challenge,” admitted Booth. “As the filmmaker, it was my responsibility to treat Mike with empathy and dignity, continually putting myself in his shoes and thinking about how the act of filming might be impacting him. Knowing when not to film was just as important as knowing when to roll camera.”

For Booth, Stevenson’s story sheds light on the pitfalls of the American healthcare system. “It’s designed to work for those who are traditionally employed,” the filmmaker said. “Employer-based benefits may have been an acceptable system in the past, but the reality is that the way that we work is rapidly shifting and for many Americans, healthcare is not keeping up with these changes. Healthcare, for many, now feels like a luxury. And that’s a really troubling thought.”

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.