Coronavirus is a wake-up call: Americans need Medicare for All

A+woman+at+the+Women%27s+March+holds+%22Medicare+for+all%22+sign+while+marching+on+Market+street+in+downtown+San+Francisco.+%28Dreamstime%2FTNS%29

A woman at the Women’s March holds “Medicare for all” sign while marching on Market street in downtown San Francisco. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Sean Davis

Pandemics and crises like these provide ample evidence of the need for universal healthcare coverage and a streamlining of the health industry through policy like Medicare for All.

The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by mass firings and economic insecurity.

The United States, unlike other wealthy nations, lacks a national healthcare system that provides universal coverage.

Combined massive layoffs with a system that encourages employer provided health insurance and you get the risk of 3.5 million workers left out to dry, uninsured.

This is an unacceptable eventuality that we may be charging toward. For workers to be kicked off insurance that allows them to seek care without the risk of crippling medical debt is a death sentence.

In times like these, any hesitation over seeking medical care due to the cost can subtract precious days, or weeks, from a potentially-limited window of effective treatment.

Ten percent of Americans are uninsured. With the flick of business owners’ pens, to make millions more lose coverage in the middle of a global pandemic is a uniquely-American farce created by the incestuous intertwining of insurance companies and political elites.

Neither the Democratic corporate technocrats nor the Republican robber barons are willing to give up the millions in insurance and pharmaceutical industry lobbying money they receive in campaign donations and post-public office job prospects.

Even during the most disturbing public health crisis in living memory, presidential candidate Joe Biden refuses to acquiesce to a M4A plan, going so far as to blame Italy’s COVID predicament on their single-payer health system.

Despite the protests of Italians that their healthcare system is in fact stopping a bad situation from becoming worse, American elites have, and will continue, to reject the only proposed solution that would provide care to everyone.

Hillary Clinton recommending that Trump reopen the Obamacare health care exchanges is like asking for the life jackets to be made available for purchase during a flood. Many of the uninsured could not afford to purchase these plans even if Trump were to open them.

The health care exchange also would not solve another cruel and unique feature of American healthcare: urgent care clinics refusing to treat a patient who lacks insurance.

For hospitals and clinics to prioritize profits over total access to treatments is a failure of economics and human decency.

Many insurance companies have so generously claimed to cover all Coronavirus treatments during the crisis but we should be suspicious of their motivations. Experts warn these companies may simply hike premiums by up to 40% in 2021 to cover the unforeseen costs of COVID.

This, along with the high likelihood of a bipartisan bailout, could see insurance companies coming out of this crisis with a profit rather than a lesson.

However, this conversation should not be about money or cost but rather about the lives we could save by simply allowing everyone to get the medical care that they need.

It’s simply cruel to build a monetary turnstile around hospital entrances and demand someone empty their wallet to get chemotherapy or a Coronavirus test.