A look at the story
- Researchers at Yale University analyzed mortality rates and insurance enrollment data before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The lack of consistent health insurance exacerbated the pandemic and resulted in the loss of life of more Americans as a result of COVID-19.
- In 2020 alone, researchers estimated that 131,438 deaths could be saved if the U.S. had a universal health care system.
More than 1 million people have died as a result of COVID-19 in the U.S., but more than 200,000 lives could have been saved if the country had a universal single-payer health care system by 2020, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health looked at national mortality data before and after the COVID-19 pandemic, and their results indicated that a fragmented health care system led to preventable deaths and unnecessary costs.
As of Thursday, the U.S. had 1,007,374 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 85 million positive cases. At the same time, the U.S. has spent more on health care than any other country, both overall and per capita, according to the researchers.
Because the U.S. lacks universal health care, millions of Americans rely on private market plans and employer-sponsored coverage. However, the pandemic caused more than 9 million Americans to fall unemployed, and many lost critical health insurance in a global pandemic.
“Inadequate health insurance coverage has exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic at both the individual and population levels,” the researchers wrote.
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Researchers linked mortality statistics to national insurance enrollment to quantify how inconsistent health insurance resulted in high death rates.
From December 2019 to April 2020, insurance enrollment was found to have fallen by 14.5 million in employer-sponsored insurance plans. At the same time, Medicaid enrollment rose from 71.6 million in March 2020 to 80.2 million in December 2020, as unemployed Americans may be eligible for Medicaid depending on income and household size.
The researchers noted that the increase in Medicaid enrollment may have a number of explanations, including the response to unemployment, the ongoing expansion efforts of Medicaid, or the perceived risk of COVID-19.
Linking these statistics to mortality data, the researchers estimated that 26.4 percent of the lives lost as a result of COVID-19 would be saved if the U.S. had universal health care throughout the pandemic.
This means that by 2020 alone, 131,438 Americans could be saved from COVID-19, and since then 200,000 more deaths could have been prevented as a result of the virus.
“Separating universal health coverage from unemployment and disconnecting from profit motives would make the country better off in the face of a pandemic,” the researchers wrote.
The federal government could also save a lot of money by switching to universal health care, with researchers estimating that by 2020 alone, $ 459 billion could be saved.
One might think that researchers have found that government-backed Medicare spending is 22 percent lower than private insurance charges for the same services. In the case of COVID-19, private insurers paid more than double the Medicaid rate for a COVID-19 hospitalization case.
Universal Health is an idea that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Campaigned for as president, and introduced a Medicare plan for all that would establish national single-payer health insurance.
The senator tried in May to present the same plan, along with a few fellow Democrats, which would be implemented within four years. It would establish national health insurance administered by the federal government and include dental care, visual coverage, and hearing aids without out-of-pocket expenses, insurance premiums, deductibles, or co-payments.
The House has not yet passed legislation.
Published June 16, 2022