THE COST OF GOOD HEALTH

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Once again, we address the coronavirus crisis, which is disrupting the world as we know it. This is an unprecedented challenge for millions of people all around the globe, and a focus is now being placed on health at a level not usually seen. And though conditions differ depending upon locality, the cost of ensuring the availability of good health care varies. Actually, nowhere should that cost be more than the lives of citizens.

Regarding that last statement, it becomes very obvious that Americans are getting shafted. In this country lives are only as valuable as the ability to add profit to the bottom line of employers. Proof? Health care access is tied to employment. America seeks to ensure that workers have access to health care insurance so that they can keep working and contributing to the bottom line of their employers.

A really good indication that capital drives health care delivery can be seen in the current COVID-19 crisis. Rather than providing the necessary equipment that caregivers require in their fight against the virus, there have been skirmishes regarding the cost of equipment. Americans actually should be embarrassed when compared with how other countries are taking care of their medical personnel. One notable moment that stands out is the case of New York City (NYC). NYC so far is leading the country in the number of new cases, but there is a shortage of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) available for those who are working selflessly on the front lines. When the NY Governor Andrew Cuomo requested 30,000 ventilators, President Donald Trump expressed the opinion that he didn’t feel that they needed that many ventilators. He eventually relented, however, but not before we all became aware that he was putting costs above human lives.

Just think on this: today the United States leads the world in the number of new COVID-19 cases. We have surpassed China, where the virus allegedly had its origins, and Italy, formerly the country that held the lead in new cases. Yet our president boasts that we are still the best country in the world. Actually, we would not be as far behind as we are if Trump had not initially called the pandemic a “hoax.” We are now in the position of playing catch-up.

The cost issue is so apparent that people are upset at regular citizens because they are purchasing so many masks that there is a shortage for medical personnel. How is it that we are called the richest country in the world, yet we cannot supply our people with the basic necessities in this viral war? The answer is undoubtedly the cost factor! Dollars are being placed before human lives.

President Trump initially wanted the territories that were on Shelter-in-Place status to return to work by Easter Sunday. His concern was that the business community would lose huge amounts of money if people remained at home in order to protect themselves from the virus. There was pushback regarding the timeline proposed by Trump, because a majority of people knew that was not enough time to adequately address the problem of viral spread. Eventually he had to relent and he pushed the date back to the end of April.

If there is one thing made painfully evident by this pandemic, it is that our health care system is broken. A profit model is extremely inefficient and anti-people. For example, if and when a vaccine is developed, there will no doubt be a cost attached to it by the mere fact that people will have to pay for doctors’ visits and medicine. This is counterproductive, because those who cannot afford treatment would continue infecting others.

Currently, the United States is the only “developed” country that does not provide a universal health care system for its citizens. Our system is tied to money, which automatically renders it incompatible with citizens’ health and well-being. A system that could address this problem would be a single-payer plan in which the middle men, i.e., insurers, are removed. The government would provide health care with our tax dollars. Not only would this save boatloads of money, all citizens would have access to health care. Health care should be considered a right, and not a privilege. We need to move forward with this idea, and the upcoming election cycle would be the best time to seriously push the issue. A Luta Continua.

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