Cases in the United States have officially over 100,000 people which is an alarming number seeing that the United States is one of the richest countries in our world. The international response to the coronavirus was simple: America was less prepared for the pandemic than other countries with universal healthcare systems.
How Unprepared Are We?
Even before the outbreak, the United States had fewer doctors and fewer hospital beds per capita than in most developed countries. It doesn’t help that Covid-19 testing has had a rough start in the United States, in a mix of relying on the government and private labs to make sure that tens of thousands of tests will be done that is necessary. With the coronavirus outbreak, many are hesitant to go get the medical care that they require, mainly because of the costs. Hospitals need rooms for the people who require close monitoring and ICU beds and ventilators for patients who simply cannot handle the virus. But none are empty nor ready right now, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that nearly 80% of New York City’s intensive care units were already filled.
Concerns With Testing
Accurate testing is crucial to stopping an outbreak: When one person gets a confirmed diagnosis they can be isolated preventing any other people from getting the disease. From that their contacts can also be identified and put into quartine. Aggressive public health actions and better testing can help save lives. The US has had a very slow start and is far behind many developed countries such as South Korea, who have at the beginning of the pandemic, tested more than 140,000 people, and set up drive-through testing stations.
Why America is so far behind
America has become one of the worst healthcare systems among developed countries and a bigger share of the population lacks health insurance. And something that might be the biggest problem and the one most unique to the American system, is money and costs. Americans face a higher out of pocket costs for their medical care than citizens of almost any other country. Research also shows that many people do not get treatment for serious conditions because of the cost. A Study made by the WHO Global Health Expenditure Database showed that the average out-of-pocket health spending per capita in the US is over $1,100 in 2016. In 2019, 33% of Americans said they put off treatment for medical conditions because of the cost; 22% said they postponed care for a serious condition. But things are changing, Vice President Mike Pence said that Covid-19 testing and treatment would be treated as an “essential health benefit” ( a standard made by the Affordable Care Act) to cover everyone’s care. But it wouldn’t apply to self-funded plans nor to Medicare. According to Nicholas Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan wrote for The Incidental Economist,” Even if they did, insurers can (and do!) impose cost-sharing EHB’s and could do so for a COVID-19 test. It’s a completely meaningless statement.” Though it may be not effective, Pence’s statement still reflected a need to rework our healthcare system, or at least have a temporary alternative. But these problems will not fade when COVID-19 disappears, they are still there. COVID-19 truly tore apart our systems and revealed the ugly monster underneath, which will continue to affect the lives of millions of Americans every day.