The Rise of Health Insurance Companies at the Time When the Pandemic Ravages AmericaJune 25, 2020
The Coronavirus crisis has highlighted both the best and the worst of humanity. It has taken out the best of America’s healthcare workforce where public support for health care staff is overwhelming. Doctors along with other health-care staffs have risen to the challenges of high-pressure work without having proper preventative strategies or treatment options. A majority of the health care system is sacrificing a great deal during the pandemic and is taking the best care of patients, despite the limited resources. Clinicians have sworn to put their patients first in-spite of the risk involved. Besides health0care staff, even the administrators are fighting hard to arrange PPE and to come out with clever strategies to prevent further calamities caused due to this virus. During the ongoing crisis, it can be said that no one is doing their work just for money, as it is too hard for a paycheck to balance the scales.
However, one segment of the health care has benefited due to the crisis, which is the for-profit health insurance industry. On one side the healthcare sector was thrown into the financial turmoil, as they have to prepare space, acquire more ventilators and PPE, hires several temporary staff but on the other hand health insurer balance sheet significantly improved. At the time of greatest threat to U.S. health in a century, the earnings of the largest health insurer were more than the last year’s figure. Thinking how health insurers can thrive amid a pandemic? It is simple, premiums of health insurance keep coming in, but very few claims are paid out. When the coronavirus approached the U.S. in March, expensive elective procedures were canceled to protect patients from Coronavirus and to conserve PPE. During this time insurer is able to save a significant amount because they were not paying any claim. Though people were paying their premiums in the lockdown knowing that without health insurance they could financially risk themselves if they need hospitalization.
The populations that are hardest hit by the COVID-19 are the older citizens or people in lower-income groups. However, the health insurance companies escaped unscathed from these sections of people too because most of the people over 65 and those in the lower-income group are at least partially insured through Medicare and Medicaid. The coronavirus tragedy has offered health insurer a great opportunity in several ways. It is a fact that private health insurance companies do well when people do not receive healthcare and it is good for them to sit on the sidelines of the pandemic. At the time when healthcare staffs’ salaries are cut and patients worry about their testing and hospitalization bills, the private insurers try to minimize claims and to maximize their profits. Rather health insurers should act for the best interest of the insured.
Coronavirus has badly affected the poor especially with lack of access to healthcare, infection, and death rates have become higher among the poor and have worsened their conditions more than an underlying health condition. It is quite painful that low-income communities do not have sufficient access to health care simply because there is no chance of profit. Right now health of the masses is on a ventilator, and it is the time for-profit health insurers to decide whether or not they will come to the rescue of low-income communities.
In five months there is an election in the U.S. and the major issues for Americans are healthcare and injustice. The country has seen how adversely the system responded to a pandemic, and how inequity exacts a greater toll on the vulnerable in a crisis, and how profits have overshadowed common sense and good healthcare. In the wake of COVID-19, the system needs to change, as the moral bankruptcy of for-profit health insurance companies has been exposed and is well understood that they do best when individuals do not receive healthcare. The time has arrived to change the system as this is to align the incentives for hospitals, clinicians, patients, and insurers to concentrate on patient care. The masses need to collectively refuse to continue as before and demand an end to profit from vulnerability.