There is no efficient way for our federal government to predict when an international outbreak such as the recent coronavirus pandemic will happen. It’s doubtful any country saw this coming before the number of cases in China began to skyrocket.
Nevertheless, governments can still prepare by having strong health care systems and plans to get people tested and treated, the most potent of which is a government-run public health care system, like Medicare For All.
A health care system run by the government means that people will be able to get health treatment without worrying about private insurance companies taking money out of their pockets, as their services will be paid for by the federal government.
The situation caused by COVID-19 has shown loud and clear that our government isn’t prepared to deal with a health crisis, and that our health care system is broken, discriminatory, and unfair.
While the president has signed into law a relief package providing for free testing, the US has experienced a severe lack of testing in the country, along with initial delays in testing, which allowed the virus to spread unknowingly for weeks.
On Feb. 5, weeks after a citizen in Seattle who had visited Wuhan, China tested positive for coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control began sending diagnostic tests to public health laboratories, according to the CDC. However, issues in CDC test kits caused testing to be delayed until late February.
In fact, many Americans struggled to get testing done, such as Julie Eaker, who works at a community health clinic in Siskiyou County, California, and had a patient who was exposed to someone with a confirmed coronavirus case, according to an article by Vox. The local health department didn’t allow Eaker to get tested, even with private testing kits.
“The health department told me I was not allowed to use those test kits–that I ordered–without their permission,” said Eaker, when she tried to order test kits from a private lab.
The constant delayed progress of testing in the US allowed COVID-19 to spread for weeks in hotspot zones like Washington, California, and New York, which now have thousands of positive cases. There were containment measures in place, but there is no way to tell their efficiency when people weren’t getting tested for the disease.
Past testing, COVID-19 treatment has been disastrous for the poor and uninsured, such as Danni Askini, who has no health insurance and ended up having a bill of $34,927.43 for her treatment of coronavirus, according to an article by Time magazine.
“I was pretty sticker-shocked,” Askini told Time. “I personally don’t know anybody who has that kind of money.”
Situations like this are happening around the country. The president is assuring us that they are working to help the American people, and yet those same people can’t get tested, and those that are able to are given hefty bills that they can’t deal with.
A lot of people have private insurance that is given by their employment, which many have lost when the quarantine caused people to lose their jobs. Even with private insurance, citizens are expected to pay about $9,763 for treatment, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
This is especially gut-wrenching for working people when they aren’t able to work and make a living because of the quarantine. How are they supposed to pay off these costs when they are being laid off and told to stay home?
That is why it is essential that we establish a government-run healthcare system that allows people to get tested and treated at no cost. The people can’t afford the drawbacks of private insurance right now, which is why they need the support of a public system.