How the Covid-19 pandemic will leave its mark on US health care
From hospital closures to the rise of telehealth, five ways the system is already transforming.
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.
Our decentralized system, with independent providers and many different payers, was not nimble in responding to this stealthy pathogen. These problems weren’t the only reason more than half a million people in the United States have contracted Covid-19 and tens of thousands have died. But America was particularly fertile ground for a virus to run wild.
Only in America could a man and daughter placed under mandatory government quarantine then be hit with a $4,000 hospital bill. 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.
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Covid-19 and the Need for Healthcare Reform
The New England Journal of Medicine
Jaime S. King, J.D., Ph.D.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the need for health care reforms that promote universal access to affordable care. Although all aspects of U.S. health care will face incredible challenges in the com- ing months, the patchwork way we govern and pay for health care is unraveling in this time of crisis, leaving millions of people vulnerable and requiring swift, coordinated political action to ensure access to affordable care.
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