The U.S. could save more than 338,000 lives and more than $ 105 billion in health care costs with a universal health care system in the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a study.
More than 1 million people have died in the U.S. as a result of Covid, including unaccompanied or underinsured “fragmented and inefficient health care systems” in the country due to financial hurdles that delayed diagnosis and increased transmission, the report says.
The U.S. had the highest mortality rate among the richest countries and is also the only country without universal health care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, it spends almost twice as much on health as other rich countries.
“The current U.S. health care system is economically inefficient and leaves millions of Americans without adequate access to medical treatment,” said Alison Galvani, director and lead author of the Yale Center for Public Health Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis. research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The authors recommend that the country adopt Medicare For All, a single-payer health program, “to facilitate recovery from the ongoing crisis and strengthen pandemic preparedness, as well as to protect welfare and prosperity more broadly.”
To determine how much Covid’s death could be avoided, the authors relied on previous U.S. insurance gap and mortality rate research based on data on how many people lost their employer-backed insurance as a result of Covid-related business closures and job cuts. .
“While housekeeping orders and temporary closures of non-essential businesses limited the immediate deployment of Covid-19 and prevented catastrophic hospital capacity requirements, the measures also led to rising unemployment,” the report says. “For employees, dismissal results in loss of insurance or the need to change to another type.”
The authors calculated the savings in universal health care costs by examining the average Medicare and Medicaid costs of a Covid-19 hospitalization that required mechanical ventilation, according to the report, at $ 57,822 and $ 47,396, respectively. The average cost of private insurance was $ 114,842.
The study also confirms that fears of losing health insurance in a pandemic could cause people to go to work even when they are not feeling well.
“Universal single-payer health care is fiscally responsible and morally essential for the U.S.,” Galvani said.
David Rosner, who studies public health and social history at Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, described the research as “the latest condemnation of a health system from a public health perspective.”
“It simply came to our notice then [and other items] they were suffering disproportionately from the middle classes, ”Rosner said. “I’m not surprised to find that these people were dying at a higher rate.”
A single-payer health care system can prevent these deaths because it would improve access to primary care, which would lead to a faster diagnosis of a virus and better treatment for diseases such as diabetes, the research says.
Ann Keller, an associate professor of health policy and management at the University of California, Berkeley, said the lack of a single-payer health care system is not the only reason the country has high rates of chronic disease. He also blamed the poor welfare state, poverty and food deserts.
“But all other things being equal, if you provide people with consistent health care, they will be able to prevent and manage chronic diseases,” Keller said.
Recent democratic efforts to establish a single-payer health care system or to expand the Affordable Care Act have stalled.
“The results of studies like ours are against a Goliath health industry that contributes a lot to the funding and lobbying of political campaigns,” Galvani said. “Legislators who are rocked by such influence do not work for the health or prosperity of their members.”