I watched 30 Days last night on FX. For those who haven’t heard about it, it’s a new show in which Morgan Spurlock (the man behind Super Size Me) basically challenges people to live 30 days in someone else’s shoes. The episode last night was him and his wife living on minimum wage. They decided to live in Columbus, Ohio, since it is one of the poorest metropolitan areas. Even using every resource available and being white and articulate, they had trouble making ends meet. They were barely able to survive the month on their salaries, even after Morgan takes a second job for part of the month, working 18 hours a day total. They had no car, lived in a really crappy apartment that was the cheapest they could find, and most critically, no health insurance. Morgan injured his wrist during the month, and his wife got a urinary tract infection. The prescription wasn’t the huge cost in either case, but the hospital bills basically took them from having a zero balance at the end of the month to being a thousand in the red. What they both found ridiculous was simply how much the places charged for them to walk in the door. Also, Morgan’s appointment cost them $40 in “medical supplies used for treatment.” The supplies used amounted to one Ace bandage, which you can easily buy at a corner store for $8 or less. They were unable to get into the free clinic for either appointment, because it was too crowded and they couldn’t afford to take time off of work.
None of this is news to anyone who has read Nickel and Dimed, but it was still painful to watch. It seems like if the health care part was taken care of, minimum wage might actually be okay…still a very tough living and certainly could be more…but the health care was what really did them in. At the same time though, if we had socialized health care, I would think more would come out of the check in taxes, and then that doesn’t really help.
Other upcoming episodes are a person trying hormonal “youth” treatments and a Christian living with Muslims. The show has the same kind of interim cartoons and explanatory voice-overs that Super Size Me had, giving it an educational feel without boring or droning on. It’s on our TiVo list now. If you have FX, I recommend checking it out.