What Would You Do?: The Drug Cost Dilemma

If a woman couldn't afford vital insulin, would you buy it for her?

ByABC News
October 7, 2009, 3:13 PM

Nov. 5, 2009 — -- It's the debate heard around the nation: From town hall meetings to television and the Internet, angry questions about health care reform have reverberated, with supporters and protesters alike trying to make sense of a new medical age.

As more than 47 million Americans struggle without insurance and more than a third of the country not able to fill prescriptions because of the cost, ABC News wondered if anyone would come to their aid.

So, "What Would You Do?" rigged a local pharmacy in Morristown, N.J., with hidden cameras and microphones to determine if a nation divided on public health would intervene in private care to help a stranger in need.

Actors were hired to portray a very real health dilemma -- acting as customers who couldn't afford their medications.

Watch "What Would You Do?" on "20/20" FRIDAY at 10 p.m. ET

"What Would You Do?" cast Cam Kornman as an elderly woman with diabetes and living on Social Security. Would bystanders intervene, offer advice or just look the other way?

With the heated health care debate and the current economic crisis, all three reactions might have been expected. But perhaps what happened never could have been anticipated.

In the very first scene, Kornman entered the pharmacy and acted bewildered when the pharmacist told her the diabetes medicine she came to pick up cost $140. No one knew that both she and the pharmacist were actors.

"I'm sure there's a mistake," Kornman protested. "My co-payment is $20. It always has been."

But there was no mistake -- the drug she needed to have no longer was covered by her insurance.

Kornman dissolved into tears as other customers watched in dismay.

Pat Mouyeos, a diabetes sufferer herself, offered her words of wisdom,

"Why don't you have your doctor change the medication to something else if they're not going to cover it anymore?" she asked.

But that wasn't all she did. When "What Would You Do's" actress sat beside her, Mouyeos took out her wallet and handed her $5, saying it was a "necessity" to help.

"What Would You Do?" was astounded by the generosity of this stranger living on Social Security. But would other customers respond the same way?