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  • Writer's pictureAlan Shoebridge

Understanding America’s healthcare system in 3 videos and 8 minutes

I recently had the pleasure of listening to a panel of Kaiser Permanente members discuss their experiences navigating today’s healthcare environment. Their stories were at times touching, inspiring and frustrating in various ways. The story that struck me the most was of a young woman who moved from England to California and was getting her first – often confusing – introduction to how healthcare works in the United States.

Her story stood out to me because it reminded me of the numerous times I’ve talked with friends and relatives from other parts of the world who are perplexed when I tell them I work in healthcare marketing. “Why does healthcare need marketing?” is the most common question I get asked. Despite becoming fairly adept at providing a good explanation of our system, I recently went looking for some simple, video guides. Even if you don’t need to explain America’s healthcare system to your relatives, you still might find these to be useful resources.

Axios: Why the U.S. never got universal health care

It’s brief at only two minutes long, but this video offers a great primer on why we have the system we do today. From Axios, “Every fight over the Affordable Care Act is a reminder of the bigger truth about the U.S. health care system: It's really a patchwork, not a system, because we never decided what our priorities were.”

Vox: The real reason American health care is so expensive

Explaining healthcare pricing is a much more complicated discussion, yet this five-minute video from Vox hits most of the main highlights. In the simplest terms, “The real reason American health care is so expensive compared to other countries is that the prices are higher. We pay more for everything from angioplasties to C-sections, from hip replacements to opioids.”

Predicting the future: What do the “disruptors” have planned?

Things are getting interesting in healthcare, especially given all of the noise coming from tech companies like Apple, Amazon and others. Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson recently spoke at a conference I attended and shared his assessment that some of these disruptors will succeed and others will not. The biggest challenge in all of this activity? We don’t have any idea yet who will rise to the top and what ideas or products will actually make positive impacts. Tyson suggests that “disruption” can – and should – come from within healthcare organizations to drive change. This one-minute video provides some food for thought about what the future might look like.


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