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Old 03-24-2020, 04:51 AM
Northern Piper is online now
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Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: At home, hunkered.
Posts: 31,056
Here's a couple of opinion pieces from that hotbed of socialism, the Guardian, about the ability a profit-driven US healthcare system will have to deal with COVID:

America's extreme neoliberal healthcare system is putting the country at risk

But there’s more to it than that. We need single-payer not only to protect us from healthcare costs, but to transform our healthcare infrastructure. In recent weeks, you may have heard that the US, despite our high healthcare spending, has fewer hospital beds per capita than many other wealthy nations. You may have also heard in recent years about an epidemic of hospital closures in poorly served rural areas, or the 2019 closure of a major academic safety-net hospital in Philadelphia. These hospitals closed not because they are unneeded, but because they are unprofitable. For the American hospital landscape is shaped by market forces, which largely determine where hospitals grow and where they wane.

At the same time, while our hospital bed supply is relatively low, our ICU bed supply per capita is among the highest in the world. Yet those beds aren’t necessarily where they need to be: a 2010 study in the Journal of American Medical Association, for instance, found large regional disparities in the distribution of ICU beds; the researchers concluded that in the face of a major epidemic, some areas might have empty beds, while others would have too few. Again, this distribution, far too often, is driven by market logic – not health needs.
Responding to the hospital issue, I can point out that 25 years ago, our provincial government did a major re-org of hospitals. There were closures of some in small towns and rural areas, but that was balanced by creation of regional health centres. It's a big province and driving distances are an issue, but overall, the goal was to ensure that the health care dollars were spent wisely and provided relatively equal access to all in the rural areas. The government took a lot of political heat for the decisions, but those reforms seem to have worked. The government was able to do that because of the single-payer system, and government funding for hospitals. The decisions whether to close or downgrade a hospital to a health centre were based on an overall rational plan for providing health care across the province, not on whether a particular hospital in a small town was unprofitable but needed.

And then there's this piece, from an uninsured young person, also in the Guardian:

Millions of uninsured Americans like me are a coronavirus timebomb

Like 27.5 million other Americans, I don’t have health insurance. It’s not for a lack of trying – I make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to buy a private health insurance plan on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Since I can’t afford to see a doctor, my healthcare strategy as a 32-year-old uninsured American has been simply to sleep eight hours, eat vegetables, and get daily exercise. But now that there are confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, the deadly virus could spread rapidly, thanks to others like me who have no feasible way to get the care we need if we start exhibiting symptoms.
This system is exactly why a 2018 West Health Institute/NORC at the University of Chicago national poll found that 44% of Americans declined to see a doctor due to cost, and why nearly a third of Americans polled said they didn’t get their prescriptions filled due to the high cost of their medicine. This is the same system that killed 38-year-old Texas public school teacher Heather Holland, who couldn’t afford the $116 co-pay for her flu medication and later died from flu complications. It’s the same system that Guardian contributor Luke O’Neil refers to as “Go viral or die trying”, in which Americans who can’t afford life-saving healthcare procedures are forced to become their own advocate and PR agency by launching a viral GoFundMe campaign to ask strangers on the internet to save their lives.

When you multiply my situation by 27.5 million, you end up with a country full of people who won’t see a doctor unless they’re extremely sick. And when you combine a for-profit healthcare system – in which only those wealthy enough to get care actually receive it – with a global pandemic, the only outcome will be unmitigated disaster. This could be somewhat remedied if the US had a single-payer, universal healthcare system, like every other industrialized nation. And as a team of Yale epidemiologists discovered in a study recently published in the Lancet, a single-payer healthcare system in the US could simultaneously save 68,000 lives and $450bn in taxpayer dollars each year.
There's no doubt that the Canadian health care system is under a severe strain right now. But the one thing we don't have is people who are going to work, even if they are feeling sick and potentially spreading COVID, because they can't afford to go to a doctor unless they're really sick. In the United States, where uninsured and underinsured people are afraid to go to the doctor unless they're really sick, they will have done their bit in spreading the disease, because of the financial cost to them of a doctor visit.
My great-grandparents came through emigrating to a new country.
My grandparents came through the Great War and the Great Depression.
My parents came through the Great Depression and World War II.
We will come through this pandemic. Hang on tight to the ones you love.