Smart, solution-oriented new documentary covers the fight to rescue American healthcare
By Craig Weatherby
The American health care system undergoes a probing diagnosis – and gets smart prescriptions – in “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare”.
Refreshingly – unlike “Sicko” from Michael Moore – this sharp documentary focuses on finding solutions, rather than inciting outrage.
Acclaimed filmmakers Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke liken the system's dysfunctions to a raging forest inferno.
Their key topics include incentives to over-treat, dependency on drug vs. lifestyle treatments, avoided cost-benefit decisions, and well-funded resistance to reform.
The co-directors also focus on two time-bombs of health-care cost: the rise of diabetes and the hidden health costs of fast food.
And chief among the solutions explored by “Escape Fire” is the dire need for Americans to change their sedentary, junk-food habits.
Wisely, the filmmakers employ stories to illustrate the points made in experts' analyses.
For example, the film details grocery chain Safeway's monetary incentives for employees to lower body fat and cholesterol levels, stop smoking, and make other effective lifestyle changes.
And a highlight is the disturbing – but ultimately heartening – story of Sgt. Robert Yates.
He became dependent on drugs prescribed to manage the post-traumatic stress disorder he acquired in Afghanistan. 
Sgt. Yates freed and healed himself with yoga, meditation, and acupuncture … an approach advocated by physicians like Andrew Weil, which the U.S. military is deploying with documented success.
As we've reported, the military is also experimenting with omega-3s – via supplements and fish-based meals – to prevent and ameliorate depression and suicidal tendencies: see “Soldiers' Suicide Risk Linked to Omega-3 Lack”.
The film's featured experts include:
  • Andrew Weil, Dean Ornish, and other physicians explore on lifestyle-related prevention.
  • Former Medicare chief Don Berwick, who explains the title's metaphor … an escape fire set to flee a larger fire.
  • Medical journalist Shannon Brownlee, who explores the devastating rate of fatal hospital errors. (Her Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, was named the best economics book of 2007.)
We recommend the movie highly.
Click here to view the trailer, click here to find theater showings, and click here to get “Escape Fire” on iTunes.