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Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare

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A graphic depicting a blazing fire with a fire alarm in the forefront.I saw the new documentary Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare recently. As I expected, it was compelling. As I also expected, I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. Namely, that our healthcare system is an absolute disaster.

I’m going to be honest and say, since the film was honored at the Sundance Film Festival, I also expected it was going to lean heavily toward nationalized healthcare – of which I’m not a particular fan. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t a partisan piece of political propaganda, à la Michael Moore, but rather an honest look at what the issues and problems really are. 

So, good for them.

“We don’t have a healthcare system we have a disease management system”

This was a quote in the documentary by Dr. Andrew Weil, which set the tone for the entire film. I also couldn’t agree with him more. In fact, anyone who has entered the medical system in the past few decades knows this. They may not be able to articulate it as succinctly as Dr. Weil, but their experience tells them it’s true.

But why? 

Why do we have a “disease management system” and not a healthcare system? Why is it that every time we seek “care for our health” we end up in a “disease management” revolving door, and we never actually get well? And more importantly, how the hell do we get out of it?

The film identified three basic issues. The first being the magnanimous influence of pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and politicians. Yeah, I know. Pick you up off the floor, right? 

During the entire debate over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies were represented in full force at the bargaining table. So were PACS (political action committees) and lobbyists, all of whom were there to fight for their financial interests.  

So that’s a big part of the problem right there. Follow the money.

The other part of the problem is how the medical community actually trains physicians. They are trained to “treat and manage” disease. They are not trained to show you how to be healthy and avoid entering the crazy system in the first place.  

But then, if the system is basically set up to generate financial profits for pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and politicians – and the film suggests this is the case  well, there is certainly no incentive for anyone to want to change it, now is there?

The third issue which was highlighted in the film, and the one which excited me the most, is the idea of preventative healthcare. The corporation Safeway, for example, has been able to cut their healthcare costs by investing heavily into company programs which financially reward employees for making healthier choices, such as quitting smoking, availing themselves of company gyms, and eating healthier food.  

The savings realized from lower healthcare costs allowed Safeway to not only earn higher profits for the company, but also to invest more into the programs, which in turn, inspired employees to participate more. An ultimate win-win for everyone.

Personally, I lean toward these types of solutions. It encourages cooperation.It places responsibility for health on the shoulders of individuals. It doesn’t demonize business, and it benefits everyone. What’s not to love about that?

Though the film didn’t offer any iron-clad solutions, it did do an excellent job in framing the issues and isolating what the problems really are. If you’re concerned about our healthcare system (and who isn’t), I highly recommend you see the film. It definitely offers a reasoned voice in a debate which isrife with histrionics and political agendas. 

Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.

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Tags: Politics of Women's Health

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About the Author

Magnolia is dedicated to empowering women to take responsibility for their own health.

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