Money-Driven Medicine—N.Y. Premiere of Film, June 11

At last, Money-Driven Medicine is finished.  This  90-minute documentary was produced by Alex Gibney, best known for his 2005 film, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room  and his 2007 Academy Award Winning documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side.The film was directed by Andy Fredericks, and is based on my book, Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much (Harper Collins).The Century Foundation and the New York Society for Ethical Culture are co-hosting the New York premiere on June11,  7p.m.  at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street at Central Park West. Doors open at 6:30.  Admission is free.  If you’re planning to attend, please RSVP  Loretta Ahlrich, ahlrich@tcf.org or (212) 452-7722 so that we can have a rough idea of how many people will be coming.

Alex Gibney will be there to talk about the film, and following the screening, I’ll take questions from the audience about healthcare and healthcare reform.

About the Film: Money-Driven Medicine explores how a profit-driven health care system squanders billions of health care dollars, while exposing millions of patients to unnecessary or redundant tests, unproven, sometimes unwanted procedures, and over-priced drugs and devices that, too often, are no better than the less expensive products they have replaced. As I have said on this blog, this isn’t just a waste of money. It’s ‘hazardous waste’—waste that is hazardous to our health.In remarkably candid interviews both doctors and patients tell the riveting, sometimes funny, and often wrenching stories of a system where medicine has become a business. “We are paid to do things to patients,” says one doctor. “We are not paid to talk to them.”Patients,and physicians star in the film. They include Dr. Don Berwick, author of Escape Fire and founder of the Institute for Health Care Improvement , and Dr. Jim Weinstein, Director of Dartmouth’s  Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.  ( Dr. Jack Wennberg,  the founder of what I often refer to as “the Dartmouth Research” passed the torch to Weinstein  in 2007.)Lisa Lindell, a HealthBeat reader, patient advocate and author of  108 Days, also appears in the documentary, talking about her husband’s experience in a Texas hospital after he was seriously burned in a freak industrial accident.

How Physicians Inspired Money-Driven Medicine: I narrate the film, and in the course of the narration, recall how the story began:“When I started writing the book, I began phoning doctors, explaining the project, and asking for interviews. To my great surprise the majority  of them returned my calls.  In most cases, I didn’t know them. I expected responses from perhaps 20 percent. Instead, four out of five called back.“‘We want someone to know what is going on,’ explained one prominent physician in Manhattan. ‘But please don’t use my name. You have to promise me that. In this business, the politics are so rough—it would be the end of my career.’”They were right. Everyone needs to know.

Maggie Mahar is an award winning journalist and author. A frequent contributor to THCB, her work has appeared in the New York Times, Barron’s and Institutional Investor. She is the author of  “Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Why Healthcare Costs So Much,” an examination of the economic forces driving the health care system. A fellow at the Century Foundation, Maggie is also the author the increasingly influential HealthBeat blog, one of our favorite health care reads, where this piece first appeared.

16 replies »

  1. Karl – Believe it or not, there was a time when medicine was not money-driven. Doctors had sliding scales for patients: they charged the rich more and the poor paid in tomatoes. Plus, medicine is unique among professions. People die when the health care system makes a mistake. Do we want such a system to be driven by profits or to give priority to the well being of its “customers”? Once health care became corporate, its goal was to maximize health care expenses. Unfortunately this makes health care – which is a necessity for life, not a discretionary purchase – unaffordable. Try the book. It’s excellent.

  2. I found a website — http://www.moneydrivenmedicine.net/ — although it’s just a place-holder at the moment. And there are four great excerpts on YouTube:
    I hope this will be available on Netflix. I look forward to recommending it.

  3. As a friend of Maggie’s, I suppose that disqualifies me as an objective viewer, but I have seen the film and it is terrific.
    My residents watched it, and they found the presentation of the data and concepts highly accessible. They learned a hell of a lot, more than they get from the docs in the trenches, and have a better understanding of the Dartmouth Atlas and overutilization as a result. Maggie’s choice of experts is also as good as it gets–Berwick his usual enlightening self.
    This is a must few for policy wonks and folks who want to learn more; great primer for med students and PGYs alike. This is the “course” critics of med training say we need…but what the schools never deliver.
    Outstanding job all around, and readers of this blog will love it.

  4. Dang, I hate to miss this and the opportunity to meet folks, but I’ll be out of town. Any plans for a second New York screening?

  5. Thank you all for your comments.
    The film doesn’t yet have a website. The producer is on the verge of signing a deal with a distributor and then the distributor will set up a website and will be selling DVDs
    I’ll let everyone know more about how and where you can get DVDS- and where there will be screenings–on this thread.

  6. If you are interested, I would recommend that you read the book, available new and used at amazon and elsewhere.

  7. Does this project have a web site? Can you please provide some information about how will it be distributed for readers who don’t live in NYC but want to see it?