US President Donald J. Trump, along with Vice President Mike Pence

Things that make the US health system a drain (and a ruin) in the Event of a Pandemic

In many cases, you have to pay to be cured and also one in four workers do not get paid if they are on medical leave.

The United States is already the third country in the world with the most infections of coronavirus. In New York, the authorities foresee an “astronomical rise in cases” in the coming days. One hundred seventy-five million Americans, more than half the population, are at home on the orders of their mayors and governors, but Donald Trump keeps saying things like “if it depended on doctors, they would close the whole world” and “people also die in traffic accidents, and we don’t prohibit them from driving. ” And if these concerns were few, there are the “peculiarities” of the US health system.

What happens to you in the US if you get it and you don’t have health insurance?

Bad thing. The Trump administration has gotten insurers to stretch a bit with the coronavirus, but the 28 million Americans who don’t have health insurance have it badly, and that’s 10% of all under 65s. The law passed urgently a week ago earmarks some money so that they can at least get a diagnostic test if a doctor sends it to them, but not much more. 

Since the 1980s, practically all hospitals in the country have been prohibited from denying emergency care to anyone, whether or not they have insurance. But that forces them to do little more than stabilize the patient and avoid death or irreparable harm. And anyway, the bill will be waiting for you at the exit of the hospital room. The estimated price for an insurer of coronavirus treatment with hospital admission is around 18,000 euros, but individuals pay more, and some have already received a bill of more than 30,000 euros.

And whoever does have health insurance, is it free?

No, of course not. The Trump administration has managed to get almost all major insurers to cover at least the price of coronavirus diagnostic tests, but treatment is something else, and they will treat it like any other common disease. Free? Nothing is free in the American healthcare system. The average monthly fee for health insurance is around a thousand euros per family, but it does not end there much less. Let’s take out the calculator. 

To this monthly premium, we must add a kind of franchise, which means that the insurance does not start paying anything until you have paid, on average, the first € 1,500 of the year. And in the vast majority of cases, you will also pay a percentage of each service (usually around 20%) and also an additional fixed amount depending on the type of medical care, from around € 15 for a visit to the GP. up to around € 300 for a hospital stay. All until reaching an annual maximum, on average, of about € 6,000 apart from the monthly policy. The calculation of the experts is that having insurance, the coronavirus will cost you an extra € 1,200. 66% of Americans who file for bankruptcy say medical bills have played a role. 

What happens to someone who remains unemployed?

More than 157 million Americans, just under half, have health insurance through their jobs, as their company pays part or all of the cost of their monthly premium. The problem is that the coronavirus is also wreaking havoc on the economy and the United States is a country with free dismissal: according to experts, some 35 million jobs are in danger from the epidemic, and what about those workers? Well, they will have to choose between paying that average fee of one thousand euros per family, now that they have no income, or being left without insurance. 

What consequences does all this have on the spread of the virus?

Many, unfortunately. For obvious reasons, people without health insurance go to the doctor less and are more likely not to be quarantined and contribute to infections. In addition, one in four workers in the US does not have the right to paid medical leave, which greatly complicates the golden rule to fight the epidemic: if you feel bad, do not go to work, stay at home. Congress has tried to remedy it with a special medical leave law paid during this national emergency, but it has its ins and outs.

The text establishes the paid two-week leave for medical reasons and up to 12 weeks to take care of children who are out of school. However, the measure does not include half of the workers, since companies with more than 500 employees are exempt, and also the companies that have the least can get away if they argue that adopting these measures could lead to bankruptcy. 

Is there any good news?

Yes. Almost everyone over the age of 65 is entitled to health insurance through the public Medicare program. It has the same drawbacks and limitations as any insurance on franchises and extra payments, but at least only a very small part of the main risk group is not covered.

Leave a Comment