Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue America’s Healthcare

I encourage you to watch the “Must See” documentary, “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue America’s Healthcare(trailer below). It won several awards at the Sundance Film Festival, and was described as “An Inconvenient Truth for the healthcare debate” (The Village Voice). Over two million people watched when it aired for free on CNN in March. Since then it has been available in theaters and for paid download, and now the Institute for Healthcare Improvement is helping to bring free screenings of the film to over 60 colleges and universities across the country. (Find one near you.) Each screening will be paired with a panel and Q&A discussion to ask the question “What can you do by next Tuesday?” to change healthcare in some way. Spread the word and start your brainstorming now! You can share your ideas here.

MY PROPOSAL: I believe the key to health reform is to Get The Healthcare Incentives Right. Where private companies measure success in terms (revenue, profit, ROI, payback period, stock price, etc.), public entities measure success differently and over longer time periods. My hybrid proposal blends the two: a public sector model of wellness & basic care (doctors & nurses work as government employees) but allowing. for capitalism, innovation & risk taking. See http://www.mhealthtalk.com/2012/08/hybrid-model/.

Shortened Teaser Video

Full-length Documentary

Escape Fire Stats & Quotes …

  • “We’re in the grip of a very big industry, and it doesn’t want to stop making money.”
  • $1.1 billion was spent on healthcare lobbying between 2009 & 2010.
  • The US spent $2.7 trillion on healthcare in 2011, more than any other wealthy nation, but we have worse outcomes.
  • The average American hospital visit costs $1,666 per day, which is four times more than in the rest of the world.
  • The average cost of a drug-eluding stent procedure is $40,000, while the average cost of one session of cardiac rehab is just $100.
  • A doctor who spends 5 min to install a stent in a clogged artery may earn $1,500, but if she spent 45 min talking with the patient about how to avoid such conditions, she’d only earn about $15.
  • Our average lifespan is ranked 50th among OECD nations.
  • Only 1 in 16,000 Americans per year have had their lives saved or extended by advances in healthcare technology.
  • It’s not just the health of grandma at stake, or even the health of the healthcare system; it’s also the very health of the nation.
  • The cost of American healthcare is rising so fast that it is projected to reach $4.2 trillion (~20% of GDP) within six years.
  • The average per capita cost of healthcare in the developed world is about $3,000 a year, while the average in the US is about $8,000 annually. Who pays for that? We all pay, and it comes from funds that could be better used elsewhere.
  • 75% of healthcare costs go to treating chronic diseases that are largely preventable.
  • The industry sees More as better, and provides more, because that’s how it makes money. We pay hospitals to be full, so they try to be full. We pay doctors to see patients, so they try to see lots of patients.
  • Fee-for-Service rewards physicians for doing more, not for providing better care or eliminating the need.
  • Primary care physicians earn about half as much as specialists.
  • Our Disease-care system doesn’t want you to die, but it doesn’t really want you to get well either. It wants you to keep coming back as a paying customer for treatment of your chronic illness. In fact, many public policies, including those affecting the food supply and the environment, actually increase disease.
  • We spend $300 billion a year on pharmaceuticals, which is almost as much as the rest of the world combined. And we take 10 times more meds now than in the 1950’s.
  • Half of network TV ads now are for various drugs. The only other country that allows consumer drug ads is New Zealand. The ads always end with the same phrase, “Ask your doctor.” People do, and the docs comply.
  • People eat what’s cheap and what’s available, but the bigger cost comes from treating the result of eating cheap (and unhealthy) food. If trends continue through 2020, 20% of healthcare spending, or up to $1 trillion, will be spent on obesity related conditions.
  • Almost 40% of US hospitals offer fast food restaurants on their premises.
  • Insurance companies have been able to increase premiums at will, and since 1999 the cost of employer-sponsored insurance premiums has increased four times faster than salaries. If other prices had grown as quickly as healthcare costs since 1945, a dozen eggs would cost $55, a gallon of milk would cost $48, and a dozen oranges would cost $134.
  • “Medicine used to be about healing, but when it became a business, we lost our moral compass, and it became about profit.”
  • In July 2012, GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) agreed to plead guilty for failing to disclose safety data on Avandia, the world’s most popular diabetes drug, as part of a $3 billion settlement. The federal lawsuit was filed after the drug was linked to heart risks, and prosecutors said the company had paid doctors and manipulated medical research to promote the drug. But the settlement amount is less than the annual revenue from the drug, a slap on the hand or an acceptable cost of doing business, and no one went to jail.

Click here for our extensive list of other healthcare stats.

Click here for a copy of the Frisco Lakes discussion document from 1/15/2017.

One thought on “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue America’s Healthcare

  1. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was modeled after Republican insurance-mandate proposals from The Heritage Foundation and model legislation enacted in Massachusetts by then governor Mitt Romney. But Republicans have fought ever since to have it repealed, offering nothing in its place.

    I have mixed feelings about Obamacare. While I see much to like about it as a Band-Aid, it’s far from ideal. That’s because it reinforces, rather than replaces, the private insurance model and many other things that contribute to high and rising healthcare costs. It’s less than ideal because of intense lobbying by an immensely profitable industry that doesn’t want to stop making $3+ trillion per year. I preferred the Public Option (Medicare for All), but that was taken off the negotiating table early on, thanks to the lobbyists, and that’s why I submitted my own hybrid proposal as described in this article.

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