[VIDEO] Money-Driven Medicine: Wall Street Wins; You Lose
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Maggie Mahar's book, Money Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much (HarperCollins), forms the basis for a new documentary by Alex Gibney, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker ( Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.) The film, Money-Driven Medicine aired on Bill Moyers Journal on Friday. (You can watch the whole thing here.)
Warning: it will make you really, really mad.
Mahar, who covered finance for Barron's, began her research by randomly calling doctors to get their side of the health-care story. To her surprise, nearly all of them, most of whom did not know her, called her back, so eager were they to ring the alarm on a system they see as having strayed far from its mission:
Here's Dr. Donald Berwick, disputing the notion that the U.S. is number one in health care:
It is, I guess, politically correct, widely believed, that to say that American health care is the best in the world. It's not. There's a much more complicated story there. For some kinds of care my colleague Brent James calls it rescue care. Yes, we're the best in the world. If you need very complex cardiac surgery or very advanced chemotherapy for your cancer or some audacious intervention with organ transplantation, you're pretty lucky to be in America.
You'll get it faster and you'll probably get it better than in at least most other countries. Rescue care we're great. But most health care isn't that. Most health care is getting people with diabetes through their illness over years or controlling the pain of someone with arthritis or just answering a question for someone who is worried or preventing them from getting into trouble in the first place. And on those scores: Chronic disease care, community-based care, primary care, preventive care. No no, we're no where near the best. And it's reflected in our outcomes.
We're something like the… We're not the best health care system in the world in infant mortality rates. We're like number 23. There is an index that is used in rating health care systems, which is the rate of mortality that could have been prevented by health care. There are at least a dozen countries with lower rates of preventable mortalities than the United States and not one of those countries spends 60 percent of what we do on health care.
Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.