Images of Health Insurance in Popular Film: The Dissolving Critique

51 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2020

See all articles by Elizabeth Pendo

Elizabeth Pendo

Saint Louis University - School of Law


Several recent films have villainized the health insurance industry as central elements of their plots. This Article examines three of those films: Critical Care, The Rainmaker, and John Q. It analyzes these films through the context of the consumer backlash against managed care that began in the 1990s and shows how these films reflect the consumer sentiment regarding health insurance companies and the cost controlling strategies they employ. In addition, the Article identifies three key premises about health insurance in the films that, although exaggerated and incomplete, have significant factual support. Ultimately, the author argues that, despite their passionately critical and liberal tone, these films actually put forward solutions that are highly individualist and conservative, rather than inclusive and systemic.

Keywords: Health insurance, managed care, uninsured, underinsured, physician incentives, employer health plans, consumer directed health care, film

JEL Classification: I00, I10, I11, J32

Suggested Citation

Pendo, Elizabeth, Images of Health Insurance in Popular Film: The Dissolving Critique. Journal of Health Law, Vol. 37, pp. 267-315, Spring 2004, Available at SSRN:

Elizabeth Pendo (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University - School of Law ( email )

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States
(314) 977-2767 (Phone)

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