Uninsured Americans are the Big Threat for the Spread of Corona-Virus in the United States
The National poll of a University of Chicago discovered that 44% of Americans refuse to see a doctor due to cost. Around 27.5 million Americans don’t have health insurance simply because their earning is not enough to buy a private health insurance plan on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Since an increased number of Americans can’t afford to see a doctor, their healthcare strategies revolve around complete eight hours of sleep, eating vegetables and doing daily exercise. But now with the confirmed cases of corona-virus in the United States, the deadly virus could rapidly spread because a large number of uninsured in the country have no means to receive the healthcare, which they will need after exhibiting symptoms.
Corona-Virus certainly qualifies as a pandemic under the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition, which under a typical administration demands swift response from US health officials. However, the Trump administration seems to be prioritizing the healthcare industry’s profit margin instead of preventing the spread of this pandemic. This can be well understood from the statement of Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, who refused to implement price controls on a corona-virus vaccine. Besides him, even Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker while referring to a corona-virus vaccine didn’t use the word free and instead use the word affordable. However, what may be affordable for the third-most powerful person in the U.S. government may not be affordable for someone who even cannot afford a basic health plan that comes with out-of-pocket expenses of thousands of dollars.
The high cost of healthcare in the US prevents people from seeing a doctor until and unless an acute emergency occurs. Even the emergency care cost is so high that it haunts people’s credit making their financial life needlessly difficult. Even a low-premium bronze plan on the exchange is available with a sky-high deductible, which means that even the insured is required to pay a huge amount as out-of-pocket expenses. This system strengthens the fact that Americans refuse to visit a doctor due to cost and nearly a third of Americans didn’t get their prescription filled due to the high cost of medicine. Thus, a large number of Americans who can’t afford life-saving medical procedures are forced to become their own PR agency and launch a viral GoFundMe campaign to request strangers on the Internet to save their lives.
With so many uninsured people in the country, the US is full of people who don’t see a doctor until and unless there are extremely sick. And when we combine a for-profit healthcare system, where only wealthy receive enough care, with a global pandemic, the result will simply be a complete disaster. If the US had a single-payer, universal healthcare system just like other industrialized nation then this could have been remedied. As per a study recently published in the Lancet, a single-payer healthcare system in the US could save 68,000 lives and $450bn in taxpayer dollars every year.
Though corona-virus cases are being reported even in countries with single-payer systems like Italy and Japan but virus spread in those countries would likely pale in comparison to the potential spread of the virus in the US, where a significant portion of the residents simply visit a doctor if they are sick. With corona-virus becoming a public health emergency worldwide, profits for health insurers and pharmaceutical companies should not come before the basic health and safety of human beings.