By Ezra Wallach
Coronavirus, while likely not predicted to kill us all, has been predicted to affect over half of U.S. citizens at some point in the next 12 months. Now, that shouldn’t make us afraid, but it should make us conscious of some factors. One of these factors is our healthcare system, or rather our broken healthcare system.
The other day I went to Walgreens with the help of SafeRide to pick up my antibiotics that would rid me of my third sinus infection this year. Upon my arrival, I was informed by the pharmacist that this Walgreens didn’t take my specific insurance, as only certain Walgreens in the area did. Thus, I had to pay money for drugs that originally would have been free. Okay, story time is over.
Healthcare is complicated — this a realization that took me 18 years on Earth to come to but it is one that I am sure many others have already reached. Along with it being complicated, it is also expensive. This is a big reason why instead of proposing a public healthcare option that builds off of Obamacare, democratic candidates like Bernie Sanders have proposed Medicare for All, a system that would socialize healthcare for all U.S. citizens.
This crisis that we find ourselves in the midst of should make us think more critically about healthcare and the urgent need for healthcare for all. It is true that Medicare-for-all would be incredibly expensive for the government, but if people aren’t paying for their insurance themselves, then they can likely afford higher taxes. And for the people whose health insurance costs at the moment are less than the amount they will be taxed, emergency situations like the coronavirus demonstrate the way such a situation can suddenly change.
Coronavirus likely won’t come close to killing many of those whom it affects, as the mortality rate right now is less than 2%. But, Americans should be concerned given the fact that, according to The Commonwealth Fund, 28% of U.S. workers are underinsured. A Gallup Poll Survey showed that 33% of Americans had resisted getting treatment for a medical condition due to the cost. Both statistics, while alarmingly high under any circumstance, should be even more alarming when our country is about to be greatly affected by a global pandemic.
Those with pre-existing conditions, weak lungs, or even those with a common cold are more likely to get the virus than healthy people, but if those with suddenly weak lungs or a sore throat aren’t seeking treatment for these symptoms, then the rest of us will consequently be put in more danger. Thus, the case for Medicare-for-all shouldn’t just be to make the working class of America healthier; it should be to make everybody healthier. And to make something that shouldn’t be complicated as simple as it should be.