Jan 25, 2013 Notes from the Road
Jackson Hole News and Guide
Who: Actor Mike Milligan
What: One-man play, ‘Mercy Killers’
Joe works hard, provides for his family and sympathizes with the Tea Party’s notion of self-reliance.
Until, that is, his wife is diagnosed with cancer and dropped from the family’s health insurance policy.
Juilliard School-trained Broadway actor Mike Milligan brings his tale of heartbreak and the health care system, “Mercy Killers,” to Jackson to kick off his tour of the play. His one-man performance will recount Joe’s life as he begins to understand the limits of personal responsibility.
The former Jackson resident based his play on his own experiences living without health insurance and on his friends’ experiences. It’s a horror story of sorts.
“It became very clear to me what Americans were experiencing,“ Milligan said. “We kind of have a chop suey version of health care that has some of the worst qualities of [all the] systems.”
What’s more astonishing, Milligan said, is that the majority of bankruptcies are due to medical debt, whether from insured patients being dropped from their policies or from people who don’t have coverage.
He knows a couple whose newborn needed surgery. Weeks later, they received a bill from the anesthesiologist for $10,000. His services were not included on their health insurance plan.
“You’re bringing a new life into the world, and you’ve got this dark cloud over the house,” he said. “How are we welcoming our kids into this world? The problem isn’t that people don’t have health insurance, it’s that the insurance isn’t worth a damn.”
He also related the confession of a woman who took a health insurance job after a stint of unemployment in New York. She was instructed to reject applicants from the Bronx and Harlem, the idea being that the geographically challenged people there would not be able to appeal the decision.
The system has left many people to become their own doctors, Milligan said, “crawling to the computer to diagnose” their ailments, much like he did during a bout of kidney stones.
Milligan sees health care as a moral imperative. He’s working to put a face to the looming problem.
The play “doesn’t present a political solution,” he said, but it “does come down on health care as a basic right.”
Milligan’s brother, Corey, lives in Jackson Hole.