Appalachia and Beyond: Health Care in America
47 million Americans do not have health insurance. 25 million more are under-insured. In the coal mining towns of Appalachia, one of the most impoverished areas of the country, 13.6 million people live without health insurance.
Remote Area Medical (RAM) is a nonprofit organization established to provide medical care in third-world countries. But in the United States, the cost of health insurance has become so high, and the need for care so great, that over half of RAM's free clinics are now in the U.S.
Every summer, RAM comes to the Wise County, Virginia, fairgrounds to hold its largest U.S. clinic, providing close to 3,000 people in one weekend with free dental, vision, and medical care. Most of these people would go without this vital care if it were not for RAM; they simply could not afford it.
People drive hundreds of miles and wait for hours, even days, sleeping in their cars and tents outside the fairgrounds gate. Still, at the end of the weekend, some people are turned away.