Why are we as a country focusing more on profit instead of the wellness of our citizens? Capitalism is why.
Many Americans forgo seeking health care because they’re worried about the costs associated with it. Imagine ignoring your deteriorating health, possibly suffering, and putting off seeking care for it, all because you’re afraid of the financial debt that inevitably comes along with it.
With the recent coronavirus pandemic, it makes me wonder: Why isn’t basic universal healthcare a thing yet?
Let’s consider how the U.S is handling coronavirus (COVID-19) testing compared to other countries across the globe.
Although Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) testing for coronavirus is free, a hospital trip and other procedures to rule out coronavirus can still break the bank.
The cost of an ambulance trip, a stay in the emergency room, x-rays, and other virus and flu testing could rack up a bill of thousands of dollars for the uninsured person. Even if they were insured, out-of-pocket costs are still a hefty dent.
In Italy, the current national health service, Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, provides free universal care to patients. Yes, Italy is in chaos because of coronavirus, but at least its residents don’t have to worry about the cost deterring their decision to seek treatment.
The same goes for South Korea, who has been testing over 20,000 people a day for coronavirus — there are 7,700 confirmed cases, and over 210,000 people have been tested. The South Korean healthcare system is free to all citizens. The system is funded by a compulsory National Health Insurance system that covers 97 percent of the population.
Comparatively, the ratio of tests administered to confirmed cases is much lower in the U.S. The CDC has confirmed a total of 1,300 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and at least 11,079 specimens tested since January — however, the number of people tested is likely lower as patients are required to provide multiple specimens for testing.
Over 27 million Americans are without health insurance. A person who displays symptoms yet avoids a visit to the hospital for financial reasons has the potential to amplify the spread of the virus. We should be focusing on flattening the curve, not ignoring our health and well-being.
We shouldn’t deny people the right to live and seek medical treatment, just because they can’t afford it.
We need universal healthcare. We need it now.