QUICK READ: Via Vox “the flaws in America’s health system have been evident for decades to anyone who cared to look, but the coronavirus pandemic has left no more room for doubt: People will die because the US refuses to treat health care as a public good and a universal right. They already are.
Only in America could somebody without health insurance — a situation, all on its own, foreign to other rich countries — receive a bill for COVID-19 treatment that tops $30,000. Only in America would a dying patient ask in his final breaths who will pay for the care that could not prevent his death. The US is the richest country in the world, and yet millions are uninsured or have insufficient benefits. It has fewer hospital beds, doctors, and nurses per capita than its economic peers.
But wait, it gets worse..
According to STAT ” a survey of nine major hospitals earlier this month showed the number of severe heart attacks being treated in U.S hospitals had dropped by nearly 40% since the novel coronavirus took hold in March, leaving cardiologists worried about the second wave of deaths caused indirectly by COVID-19: patients so afraid to enter hospitals that they are dying at home or waiting so long to seek care that they’re going to suffer massive damage to their hearts or brains. Some call it “a virus of fear.”
But wait, isn’t Telehealth coming into its own?
Telehealth is experiencing a boom. Visits surged by 50 percent in March as social distancing went into full effect, and the total number of phone or video interactions is expected to exceed 1 billion total by year’s end. Estimates from 2019 had indicated only about one in 10 Americans were taking advantage of telehealth in the pre-pandemic era.
But as one doctor told me “it’s a great tool but it can’t compensate for in-person consultations for some patients”. She also told me “a lawsuit is bound to happen when a patient sues a Telehealth doctor for a misdiagnosis “.
There will be a push to expand health coverage
The elephant in this proverbial room is America’s embarrassingly high uninsured rate — above 10 percent before the crisis started and significantly higher now that millions are unemployed and losing their health insurance.
This is the fundamental immorality of US health care that the coronavirus has exposed again: How can anybody in the richest country in the world lack financial protection in a medical emergency?
While the drug industry races to develop a vaccine or treatment for COVID one also has to wonder why they aren’t all collaborating. Sure, some companies are working together but all of them should be working together to share the findings of the research. They should also be working with companies like Google and Apple to analyze current data.
The healthcare system in the US is a mess. It’s too profitable and everyone wants a piece of the action. Will we learn and get better or will profit continue to drive healthcare?