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Personal stories of patients seeking care are interwoven with expert commentary from heads of government, insurance companies, doctors and journalists. While the call that US health care is broken seems old, the stories shown here are shocking and new. They uncover why it is broken and how it can heal. The stress points that are breaking seem to be about focusing on sick-care instead of health care.
A heart surgeon exposes what he names "perverse economic incentives" that reward doctors for doing procedures, instead of rewarding them when patients become healthier. A former head of a health insurance company visits a US remote areal medical service - where people come from miles around to line up for free care in sheds and tents - and he has a crisis of conscience. A doctor shows research evidence that reducing stress reverses heart disease, and then forms teams of physicians, psychologists, nutritionists and yoga instructors to help patients heal.
One patient in the ER for heart disease talks to the doctor about when he'll change to a heart health diet. For him, it will be when he knows what's wrong with him. Education about what causes leading chronic health problems is missing from our schools. And the movie Escape Fire points out that preventative care and nutrition education are also lacking in most doctors' educations too.
This new movie is not all gloom and doom, far from it. With a focus on healthy living, healthy foods, keeping active and reducing stress with yoga and meditation, the film makers give us a great big dose of hope. One patient portrait is of a veteran, Sgt Yates, who served in Afghanistan and returned with PTSD and back injuries, unable to walk. He is transformed and says, "I'm not changed, but I'm changing".
This movie made me want to change too, and take more responsibility for my own health. We needed health care reform, now we need a health care revolution, with each patient being part of the change.
The film is short on facts and figures, which was disappointing for me, though for those who like to emotionally connect to a film, they will no doubt enjoy. Also, there were no real solutions offered in the film, which was an obvious frustration of the audience that I was a part of.
Overall, good as an introduction to some of the problems in the US health-care system and if you prefer a narrative over facts and figures.
Well, if it is such common sense then why is it so eye-opening and why is the US drowning in pills and excessive costs? We appear to need more than common sense to make the common sense changes in the 2.7 Trillion Dollar US disease treatment industry. It is not a call for single payer or national health-care, it is a call of responsible action.
This documentary is both educational and emotional it shows, in a very accessible manner, why we are in this mess (from Earl Butz to reimbursement policy) and what we can do within the current system and to change the current system. Much of the focus is on individual choice (by doctors, by patients, by organizations . Well done and beautifully presented.
Watch it. Weep. Make changes. Feel better.
As someone who is working on health care reform in the context of Single Payer/Medicare for All I have recommended Escape Fire to all of my friends, family, and to my cohorts in the health care reform effort. Our group is hoping to have a showing in our area soon.
I'm a veteran and was deeply touched by the way the soldiers in the movie were portrayed. It's a sad commentary that our health care system is so far behind in recognizing so-called alternative healing practices. This movie highlights their value in a very positive way.
Escape Fire has the potential to change the debate on health care reform. We need for it to be seen at mainstream theaters across the nation.
Almost any situation one asks him/herself 'why did they do this or that, or they should do this or that'(the government on any topic), you can almost always have the answer, "For the money and/or follow the money/and they won't do anything if there is no profit in it for them".
It's true where the corporations run the system. If it were different, we would all get a little bit more of a slice, but the market research in the United States is very clever. I mean that in the sense where people are given just enough to be satisfied, given any less, and we might have a revolution on our hands.
Other countries have never quite understood that concept ergo they have the struggles that they have. It would take years with chaos, perhaps revolution and struggle to turn it around to where the Corporations don't have their power. It might be impossible though as well. So if it's impossible, why not work the system then. That's what I like about this documentary in which it's stating it may not be possible to turn it around but if we work the system, then the system will have to take notice. That working the system in being an escape fire.
Getting Wellness, and prevention of illness programs as a part of our health care/our insurance policies. Advocating at workplaces(as it's starting to become now more)wellness and incentives on insurance for staying healthy. Bringing yoga and meditation into our daily lives as it truly helps ones health and soul. Getting acupuncture on our plans at a reasonable rate as acupuncture truly is a great benefit. Giving the alternative health care to all people(as is starting to be the case). All in all, basically changing the way our system is which our system is to medicate the problem but not to get to the root of the problem.
As on the war on drugs, billions of dollars have been spent putting people in jail for drug crimes, yet to this day, drugs are still being sold and used at the same rate as they were years ago before the billions of dollars were spent. Why is that? Because they don't do anything for the prevention of the problem, they just hide it away. Same with the health care system, medicating us just temporarily hides the wound, but does nothing for it to ultimately get better. Why is all this done you ask, 'for the money'.
If we fight for these alternative preventions in health care and anything else that needs dealt with, and turn the tide around showing there is money to be made for the corporations in doing these alternatives, then they will do it. They don't care about us or our health or who gets thrown in jail, but they care about money, so if money is in it for them, they will do it.
This is a good documentary to see for bringing all of this to a head.
The film is broken up into fairly simple, concise chapters, each of them trying to break apart and dissect the enormous issue at hand. We're told from the start, Americans pay record amounts for healthcare, yet receive mediocre treatment and don't even have a very high life expectancy compared to other developed countries who pay significantly less money for treatment. One doctor, who we see working her final day at a local hospital, claims the biggest flaw with the hospital community is that management and the government care more about "productivity" rather than how much care and attention is supplied to patients. Dr. Don Berwick, former head of Medicare and Medicaid, states that the doctors and the nurses have been doing their job correctly for years, but the job design in itself is flawed and hugely misses the ball on the bigger issue which is to try and give people the best and most reputable care they need.
Shannon Brownlee, director of the New America Health Policy Program, states that healthcare, like everything else in America, is like a business; they don't want you to die, but they don't want you to get better, they just want you coming back. She goes on to state that the United States spends over $300 billion on pharmaceuticals, and that it and New Zealand are the only countries in the world where it is legal to advertise and solicit drugs on Television. We as a society have become dependent on some kind of pill, whether we'd like to admit it or not. One of the first things you hear at a doctor's office is what tiny orange capsule of pills they will prescribe to you and the final thing you hear after one of those monotonous, ubiquitous drug commercials is "ask your doctor." I remember an interview talk radio host Mancow Muller conducted with documentarian Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me once where Spurlock stated that there is a pill for almost every possible problem and the first thing we are told when having pain is to "take a pill." Why work to relieve it when you can take a supplement and carry on? Perhaps the United States' "on the go" society is to blame. Everywhere you look there are take-out places, to-go coffee cups, or even meals on the go - all you need to do is microwave them (another invention saving loads of time). Sure there are healthier alternatives, but when you go to McDonald's and see a salad for six dollars and a burger for as low as ninety-nine cents, in this tight economy, what are you more likely to vouch for? And if you decide to vouch for that salad, what happens when you put dressing on top with all that fat, sugar, and sodium? You've effectively soiled a healthy meal.
We are informed there was a drug on the market, with numerous commercials, optimistic and convincing in presence, called "Avandia," which was used to combat diabetes and maybe even rid the system of it. Dr. Steven Nissen found out traitorous information on the drug, that it was causing heart failure and heart attacks that the company kindly hid from the world. He went all the way to court, fighting its recall until he was successful in 2011.
We are heading towards a grim future. Lower pay, longer hours, fewer jobs, poorer education, grossly unaffordable food prices, minimal economic growth, a more dictative government, the end of retirement, and if this film's facts continue to prove prophetic, worse healthcare. If there were any documentary capable of brewing cynicism and pessimism, yet also able to enlighten a viewer on a complex issue, it's Escape Fire.
NOTE: The title apparently comes from the Mann Gulch fire in 1949, where smoke jumpers were deployed to stop a fire in the Helena National Forest Preserve in Montana. Thirteen men died as a result of this fire, but one of the survivors was a man named Wag Dodge. As him and his crew were running away from the fire just a few yards behind them, he lit a match setting fire to the grass in front of him successfully creating a dry circle around him now called an "escape fire." Dodge attempted to get his other crew into the circle, but due to an unfortunate miscommunication, they perished and he was the only one to emerge from it alive. We as a society need to create a metaphoric "escape fire" for healthcare and implore those in our society to join in it.
Starring: Don Berwick, Shannon Brownlee, Steve Burd, Steven Nissen, Robert Yates, and Wendell Potter. Directed by: Susan Frömke and Matthew Heineman.