The Great Healthcare Scam (And The Future Of Journalism)

The Dish:

Steve Brill’s Time cover story is, to my mind, what journalism should now be doing. There is surely going to be a backlash soon against listicles, GIF-swaps and corrupting “sponsor content” in favor of deep, thoughtful reported journalism. Steve Brill is pioneering the next wave in journalism – the long, deep-dive, debate-shifting essay that addresses our reality in an accessible, clear but compelling way. It pains me that The New Republic didn’t run this as its first cover-piece in its new incarnation. It would have been such a fantastic statement about where they want to go (the return of serious reported journalism) rather than a suck-up interview with the president (a media “get” that is so very last decade).

I have only skimmed it and intend to read the whole thing today, and will write soon about it. But the real beauty of the piece is that all it does is go through various healthcare bills line by line and point out the massive mark-ups hospitals put on routine procedures and various drugs. We all knew this already. But what great journalism does is force us to know it better and definitively. Money quote:

When we debate health care policy, we seem to jump right to the issue of who should pay the bills, blowing past what should be the first question: Why exactly are the bills so high?

What are the reasons, good or bad, that cancer means a half-million- or million-dollar tab? Why should a trip to the emergency room for chest pains that turn out to be indigestion bring a bill that can exceed the cost of a semester of college? What makes a single dose of even the most wonderful wonder drug cost thousands of dollars? Why does simple lab work done during a few days in a hospital cost more than a car? And what is so different about the medical ecosystem that causes technology advances to drive bills up instead of down?