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Why does someone get into the business of drugs? Well, sure, in some cases it's because a person might be feeling greedy. But, in many cases, it's because an individual is excluded from the dominant economic or social welfare system, forced to secure a livelihood by any means necessary. In the case of Breaking Bad, a TV show aired in the US and Canada, Walter White, a chemistry teacher suffering from Stage IV cancer, joins up with a former student to open a meth lab. Not because he wants to get people hooked on meth, but, given his shitty HMO, it's the only way for him to ensure his wife is not left with $90,000 of debt after expensive cancer treatment. As the narrator in the video below argues, most hospital shows (think ER or Scrubs) never touch the elephant in the room of American health care: the cruelty of greedy hospitals and private health insurers, and the the strain that greed puts on really sick people. Watch:

A couple things: first, Canadians -- who enjoy a form of single-payer Medicare-for-all in their country -- must be watching this show with equal parts amusement, bewilderment and disgust. Second, no ObamaCare wouldn't solve all of Walter's problems. Yes, it might cap his expenses at less than $10,000 (in 2015), but the big problem he faces is that his insurance network is so narrow, he is left to pay out-of-pocket for out-of-network doctors who his wife and him believe to provide the best care. Under ObamaCare, networks provided by private health insurers are only going to get narrower and narrower.

In short, Breaking Bad is a masterpiece of our time. It shows, perfectly, just how the private health insurance 'system' (err...non-system) present in the United States leads to pain, suffering and, yes, desperation for the sick and their families. Let's hope folks are listening, watching and thinking deeply. We could all be the next Walter White...

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