A Film On Healthcare Reform
Why Make This Documentary?
We are making this documentary because the state of our healthcare system is an absolute disgrace. Of all the ways to characterize it, the most important is that it results in massive unnecessary cost, human suffering and death. We Americans pay double for worse healthcare than in the rest of the Western world, we have 33 million uninsured and more than a million people have died in America since 1993 simply because they lacked health insurance. This film will shatter many preconceptions about the causes of our healthcare woes and will form the basis, finally, for a properly informed debate about American healthcare reform. To achieve important and effective healthcare reform, we have to start with a fully informed debate.
Who Am I?
I am Nicola Young and I am a producer of American Healthcare: A Trillion Dollar Scandal. I have been a healthcare insider for nearly 20 years, including on Wall Street where I was a Director, Global Healthcare Group, Investment Banking, Merrill Lynch. My co-producer of American Healthcare: A Trillion Dollar Scandal is seasoned film producer, Ross Grayson Bell, producer of the iconic film, Fight Club. Ironically, in addition to having been a healthcare insider, I have suffered from life threatening medical conditions that left me uninsured and uninsurable for many years, generating insurmountable medical bills. Ross Grayson Bell and I have come together to call the healthcare industry out and crack the case on healthcare reform.
My American Healthcare Experience
I am mentioning some of my own experience with the American healthcare system, not because my experience is important, but because there are millions of Americans who have similar or worse experiences every year. I have been hospitalized repeatedly and have been in intensive care in a coma and on life support on three occasions, all while uninsurable and uninsured.
In 2015 I was hospitalized weighing 76lbs (I am 5’5” tall) after being ravaged by illness. Years ago I caught a highly toxic amoeba from swimming in the wrong water on vacation in Central America and I have had repeated bouts of serious illness. In this recent instance, my “Obamacare” insurer had assigned me a faulty customer number at the beginning of the year. They later admitted their mistake to me in writing, without meaning to. Although I had fully complied with my obligations to pay for my insurance in full and on time, my insurer refused to provide any medical care to me for four months while my condition deteriorated into another life threatening situation.
Weak and Helpless
I was weak and helpless and I had to hire a paralegal to wrestle with my insurance company and sort the situation out over this four month period. I was literally starving to death. When I was in the hospital a catheter was threaded from a puncture in my arm into the blood stream of my heart so that I could absorb food directly into my blood. Feeding bags were attached to the end of the catheter where it protruded from my arm. After some weeks, the hospital case manager took great care to ensure I had a supervising physician in place on my discharge, as well as a home nursing service to look after me, in each case from approved providers under my healthcare plan.
More Denial of Healthcare
In less than a month, my insurance company, without notice to me, removed my supervising physician from the list of approved providers under my plan and then, without notice to me, removed my home nursing service from approved providers under my plan. The physician and the home nursing service refused to continue caring for me. I discovered that this type of situation now happens often as an insurer’s trick to avoid providing expensive service – they just disqualify your healthcare providers from your particular health plan. So much for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.
No other physician or home nursing service would take me on, a patient with a catheter in her heart and no existing doctor and nursing service. To them I looked like a walking malpractice suit. In the end, as my catheter was about to turn septic without home nursing, my husband and I stood in the living room of our house as he had to pull on the catheter where it protruded from my arm and pull it all the way out of my heart and then out of my arm. I weighed 82lbs. Welcome to healthcare for the insured in America.
Other Insured and Uninsured Americans
It is not until they acquire a serious medical condition that more than 18 million insured Americans every year find, like me, that they are denied important, necessary care by their own health insurer. Even worse, 33 million of us have no health insurance at all. What type of care do you think the uninsured get? Watching the suffering of those who have to face their own impending death or disability because of the denial or lack of healthcare coverage is a heart wrenching experience that can never be forgotten. This suffering needs to be understood and eliminated. Americans are a generous people, we just need to know in simple terms what is wrong and how to fix it.
Some 66% of Americans under 65 (the cut off age for the government Medicare program) have private insurance, nearly always through an employer’s plan. A large proportion of these people feel comfortable with their health care plan. However, their employer is paying double for that health care compared to the rest of the Western world, and in the end these costs are passed down to the employee, through lower wages and salaries than they would otherwise get and through any contributions they have to make to the employer’s plan costs. More importantly, these employees need to heed the story of the many who lost or left jobs because of disability, layoffs or otherwise, thereby losing their health insurance and finding themselves helpless, unable to afford Obamacare and lifesaving treatments. That step over the precipice away from employer sponsored health insurance is just one step away for countless millions of Americans, and they don’t know it.
Telling My Own Story
As I mentioned, my story is not important. However, it is time to stop abuses and prevent others from suffering in this way, and from much worse unnecessary suffering and death. It is time for a simple and thorough explanation to the American people of the scandalous causes of our healthcare problems and what we need to do to fix the situation. This is why we are making American Healthcare: A Trillion Dollar Scandal, to be that simple and yet thorough explanation. I am really fortunate to have teamed up with my great friend and co-producer, Ross Grayson Bell, an amazing filmmaker and producer of the iconic film, Fight Club. Together, with your generous support, we are going to make this important film.
We want this film to be part of the healthcare debate as we launch into a new presidential administration. We are making this film at a time that is crucial in terms of addressing this debate about the future of our healthcare system, which will likely be a priority for the new administration.
My Professional Background
I am a producer of American Healthcare: A Trillion Dollar Scandal. After graduating with degrees in mathematics and in law, I initially practiced law in the field of corporate takeovers in Australia and Asia. I fulfilled my lifelong dream and migrated to the United States 26 years ago – I am a very proud American. I obtained my MBA at Harvard and became an investment banker on Wall Street specializing in healthcare industry corporate takeovers and financing transactions. I have been a healthcare insider for nearly 20 years, including on Wall Street as a Director of the Global Healthcare Group, Investment Banking, at Merrill Lynch. I have also been a healthcare investor and an entrepreneur in the healthcare industry and a reluctant and frequent healthcare patient. Yet, I have never once seen from the healthcare industry, from the media, from industry commentators or from politicians a correct, thorough and simple explanation of the reasons for our healthcare problems and of what we can do to fix them. Instead, industry insiders, politicians and commentators provide totally misleading explanations and generally behave as if our distorted healthcare system just fell from the sky the way it is, rather than its being the product of extreme corruption and perversion of industry incentives.
That is why we are producing this film, we hope with your generous support, to provide the shocking and yet simple explanations that we so desperately need.
Professional Background of Ross Grayson Bell, Producer
Ross Grayson Bell is a co-producer of American Healthcare: A Trillion Dollar Scandal. Ross fulfilled his dream of becoming a film producer in Hollywood, moving to Los Angeles from his native Australia 27 years ago. Ross is a very proud American. He is the producer of Fight Club, a Twentieth Century Fox film with Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter and Edward Norton. Ross is also executive producer of Under Suspicion, in which he brought together Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman. Ross started his career working with legendary Hollywood producer, Ray Stark. He has formed producing partnerships with Winona Ryder, Jamie Foxx, Lawrence Bender and Jeff Skoll’s Participant Productions. He has worked with directors Gillian Armstrong, David Fincher, Pedro Almodóvar, Gus Van Sant and Gore Verbinski, among others. Not only a seasoned producer, Ross is also a screenwriter and story consultant. As a screenwriter he has partnered with Academy Award-winning producers of The King’s Speech, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, to write the screenplay, I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing in Perfect Cantonese, for BBC Films. Ross has held industry positions including Head of Screenwriting at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. Ross speaks at and chairs panels on a regular basis at writers’ festivals and regularly serves as a judge for industry awards.
A Healthcare Industry Insider Calls the Healthcare Industry Out
Ross Grayson Bell and I have come together as producers of this film, to call the healthcare industry out. Although they will usually only tell me confidentially, there are many, and senior, healthcare industry insiders who feel the way that we do.
4 Key Questions
There are 4 key questions that we address in our crowdfunding video that highlight the desperate need for healthcare reform in America.
How is it that we, as a country, have come to tolerate 35,000 people dying each year in America simply because they lack health insurance?
· That is more than 3 times the number of deaths by gun homicide in our country every year
· Accounting for annual variations, this means that since 1993, 1 million people have died in America simply because they lacked health insurance.
Why is it that after implementation of Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act) we still have 33 million uninsured in America?
· 33 million is equal to the combined populations of Utah, Mississippi, Arkansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Washington DC, Vermont and Wyoming. Do we really mean to abandon the equivalent of the populations of 19 states?
· We are the richest nation in the world and yet the rest of the Western world has universal healthcare, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and many others…
How is it that in America we pay more than double per person for worse healthcare outcomes than in the rest of the Western world?
· As mentioned above, commentators, politicians and industry insiders have a raft of excuses for this, or they behave as if our healthcare system fell from the sky in its current form, rather than being shaped by astonishing corruption and perversion of industry incentives.
What happens to the $1.7 Trillion dollars a year in healthcare overpayments that we make in America every year when compared to the rest of the Western world and even when compared to that section of the Western world that has the best ranked healthcare systems?
· With $1.7 Trillion, we could pay for healthcare for all 33 million uninsured, at prices benchmarked to the rest of the West, some 13 times over each year. We could thereby save the lives of more than 35,000 people per year in America
· $1.7 Trillion dollars comprising our annual healthcare overspend in America is 10% of our GDP – that’s right, 10% of our economy is spent on waste and fraud because of our healthcare system. Further, the $1.7 Trillion is nearly 9% of our national debt, which at approximately $20 Trillion is at a critically high level. Addressing our healthcare problems could easily solve our national debt crisis
Use of Campaign Funding
Campaign funding will go towards all aspects of producing and marketing this film, including conducting interviews of patients and families with stories affected by the healthcare industry, interviews of industry insiders, personnel, equipment and photography, costs of going on the road to shoot the film, editing facilities and personnel, sound design, tracklay facilities, mixing, grading, voiceover recording, whiteboard and other animation, title design, music composition, music licensing, design, distribution, marketing and publicity and costs of fulfilling pledges and other costs of this crowdfunding,. We hope to significantly exceed our primary campaign funding goal of $100,000. Stretch goals that we can address with the extra funding include enhancing cinematography with a superior Director of Photography and a superior editor, including in our film shoot road trip additional suitable destinations for capturing enhanced footage, economically priced use of original music, allocation of additional resources to distribution, including arranging screenings.
Risks & Challenges
Every project has risks and challenges, even with the best project team and strategy. It is possible, though in our view very unlikely, that unforeseen circumstances may arise that prevent us from completing production and distribution of this film after we have met our crowdfunding objectives.
However, we believe you can be comfortable that we are fully qualified to bring this film to fruition. We will responsibly scale the scope of this project based on the level of fundraising we achieve, both in terms of stretch goals for fundraising over $100,000 and in terms of scaling back the scope of activities and costs if our funding is less than our base target of $100,000.
As noted above, Ross Grayson Bell is a seasoned producer, screen writer and story consultant in the film industry. His track record includes achieving spectacular success with his iconic film, Fight Club and also for Under Suspicion, in which he brought Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman together. Nicola and Ross have also teamed up with seasoned film crowdfunding expert, film maker and independent film distributor, Thomas Mai.
Nicola has an extensive background in healthcare and finance, including, as mentioned above, on Wall Street as a Director, Global Healthcare Group, Investment Banking, Merrill Lynch and as Vice President, Investment Banking, Lazard Frères. She has a track record of successfully managing budgets of many millions of dollars per year. Nicola has advised on major healthcare company strategy, takeovers and financings, advising on more than $60 Billion in completed transactions. She has advised clients including Johnson & Johnson, Glaxo Smithkline, Quest Diagnostics, Wellpoint and many others. Among many transactions, Nicola advised on the then third largest merger in history, the Glaxo hostile acquisition of Wellcome and the acquisition by the nation’s largest HMO, WellPoint, of MassMutual Life & Health and John Hancock Life & Health. Nicola has a strong track record of producing results on major projects and brings extraordinary passion to American Healthcare: A Trillion Dollar Scandal.
Please Help Us Get the Word Out
We understand that many of you will be unable to contribute to this film at this time and we hope that many of you will be able to contribute. Either way, we absolutely would appreciate your help in getting the word out about this campaign – this is the only way we can succeed.
· Please help make some noise about our campaign through social media and networking with your friends, family and colleagues. It is really important that this film is out there.
· Please use the share tools available in gofundme to spread the word about our film