The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many interrelated health crises this year. The crisis has shown the weaknesses and underlying issues of the U.S healthcare system. By revealing its weaknesses, the pandemic reveals ways to reform the system, which can enhance the ability to cope with epidemics and pandemics that may occur in the future. This is essential to cater to basic American healthcare requirements at the very least.
Benjamin Gordon on this crisis
- Insurance coverage
The COVID-19 outbreak has shown weaknesses in health insurance coverage in the U.S. The beginning of the pandemic brought a swift rise in unemployment, surpassing 20 million people unemployed. As a result, many Americans lost their employer-sponsored insurance. According to a Commonwealth Fund survey, close to 40% of respondents or their partners had lost their job. According to Benjamin Gordon, some of these people will continue to receive their employer coverage or will qualify for marketplace plans for insurance. However, there are some people who will receive no coverage. Workers who are able to keep their jobs may come to understand how their coverage has decreased in quality as employers aim to cut costs. These developments have caused about 31 million people to live without health insurance.
- Substantial financial losses for providers
Current losses are comparable to those of the Great Depression. Ongoing financial losses threaten the ability of large hospitals and office practices to provide services.
The reason for this unbearable financial crisis is the unprecedented alterations in demand for healthcare solutions. The virus has increased the need for specialized, intensive care, causing strain on some hospitals. It also imposed unforeseen expenses on many people. Declines in demand for routine medical services also minimized the providers’ earnings. Office-based practices also witnessed 60% reductions in visitations within the first few months of the pandemic. According to calculations, the hospitals were slated to lose as much as $323.1 billion just this year. Even employment in the healthcare industry has reduced to a great extent.
- Ethnic and racial disparities
The Black community comprises 13% of the U.S population and maintains 20% of all pandemic cases, as well as 22% of deaths from the COVID-19 virus. Black people are disproportionately affected by this pandemic. They have reached close to 60% of pandemic deaths in the US. The Hispanic community has 18% of the total population and contributed 33% of new cases globally.
These ethnic and racial disparities have led to a confounding crisis: the healthcare system’s failure of people of color. The system doesn’t ensure people of color at the same rate as white people. This lack of coverage results in less care available, leading to increased occurrences of chronic illness amongst this community. These illnesses have made them more vulnerable from comorbidity to the pandemic outbreak.
These are a few of the issues that the healthcare industry has faced since the pandemic began. Such issues indicate that it’s time to take a hard look at the medical system to address underlying issues in order to help people during such a crisis.