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Mon Mar 23, 2020, 08:37 AM

Why the U.S. failed the coronavirus test

By Marcia Angell Mar 21, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is the best argument for “Medicare for All.” As it stands, most Americans get health care only if we have insurance that will pay for it. If we don’t or we can’t afford the deductibles and copayments, too bad. Every other advanced country provides universal health care in a predominately nonprofit system.

What happens, then, when Americans develop a fever and cough? Are they likely to seek medical help, despite the hefty bills they are sure to receive, particularly if, say, the radiologist is out of network or the insurance company refuses to pay for some other reason? The new coronavirus, while highly contagious, is usually mild, so people with minimal symptoms might simply take their usual cold remedies while they go about their business and spread the infection widely.

The problem is that we treat health care like a market commodity distributed according to the ability to pay in an uncoordinated system with hundreds of commercial insurers and profit-oriented providers. Some 30 million people have no access to health care because they are uninsured, and millions more don’t use their insurance because the deductibles and copayments are unaffordable. In addition, insurers usually require patients to get their care within a narrow network of providers and exclude certain services.

The shortage of test kits for coronavirus stems from a related problem. Since there was no commercial market for them, they didn’t get made immediately. While we’ve converted health care into a market commodity, we’ve hollowed out our public health system, so it couldn’t do the job.

For all we know, the coronavirus may already have spread widely within the United States. Although it has been in other countries for more than two months, we have not really looked for it here. Until the last week in February, our premier public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, limited its diagnostic testing to symptomatic patients who had traveled to China or had contact with someone known to be infected. This is akin to looking for lost keys only under a lamppost.


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Reply Why the U.S. failed the coronavirus test (Original post)
BeckyDem Mar 2020 OP
riversedge Mar 2020 #1
BeckyDem Mar 2020 #2
BeckyDem Mar 2020 #3
Wounded Bear Mar 2020 #4
BeckyDem Mar 2020 #5

Response to BeckyDem (Original post)

Mon Mar 23, 2020, 08:39 AM

1. k and R

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Response to BeckyDem (Original post)

Mon Mar 23, 2020, 11:31 AM

2. Masks, Gowns, and Medicare For All

By Jonathan Michels

Thoughts and prayers are nice, but healthcare workers need Medicare for All

If patients want to support healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, they should join us in calling for a universal, single-payer healthcare system.


Any hope that we might emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic unscathed is gone. So far, the novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of 150 Americans and infected 10,442 others. Those figures are certainly higher because access to coronavirus test kits remains severely limited.

I know full well the risks of contracting the deadly disease. I work as a radiology technologist at a large teaching hospital, where patients believed to be suffering from acute respiratory disease are likely to receive a chest x-ray upon check in. That means me.

Like many healthcare workers, I might be infected right now and not even know it because of the lack of testing.

As the coronavirus continues to tear through the United States, there has been a mass outpouring of love and solidarity directed at healthcare workers like me. People have sent us prayers and beautiful songs. More substantively, people have amplified our demands for more personal protective equipment (PPE), like gowns and N95 respirators, as well as paid sick leave.

It means a lot knowing that I have the support of my community.


But it’s not enough.

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Response to BeckyDem (Original post)

Mon Mar 23, 2020, 04:16 PM

3. Breaking A 10-Year Streak, The Number Of Uninsured Americans Rises

For the first time in a decade, the number of Americans without health insurance has risen — by about 2 million people in 2018 — according to the annual U.S. Census Bureau report released Tuesday.

The Census found that 8.5% of the U.S. population went without medical insurance for all of 2018, up from 7.9% in 2017. By contrast, in 2013, before the Affordable Care Act took full effect, 13.3% were uninsured. It was the first year-to-year increase since 2008-09, Census officials said.

Census officials said most of drop in health coverage was related to a 0.7% decline in Medicaid participants. The number of people with private insurance remained steady and there was a 0.4% increase in those on Medicare.

Many of those losing coverage were non-citizens, a possible fallout from the Trump administration’s tough immigration policies and rhetoric. About 574,000 non-citizens lost coverage in 2018, a drop of about 2.3%, the report found.

“Uninsured non-citizens account for almost a third of the increase in uninsured, which may reflect the administration’s more aggressive stance on immigration,” said Joseph Antos, a health economist at the American Enterprise Institute.


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Response to BeckyDem (Original post)

Mon Mar 23, 2020, 04:19 PM

4. We don't have a healthcare "system"...we have a for-profit health care industry.

We need to stop calling it a system. Nothing systematic about it.

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Response to Wounded Bear (Reply #4)

Mon Mar 23, 2020, 04:27 PM

5. Yes. When we end that we'll all be better off, literally.

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