Healthcare as a human right will fight COVID-19

Healthcare as a human right will fight COVID-19

Justin Van't Hof

When it comes to the COVID-19 virus, the conversation about testing costs and who pays for it is largely being ignored by the masses. This cannot afford to be ignored any longer when people like myself, who don’t currently have insurance, find the thought of paying for COVID-19 treatment unthinkable. How is it fair that because of the government’s lack of preparation for an outbreak average American’s have to foot the bill?

The issue of lack of access to insurance existed long before the COVID- 19 outbreak. According to Commonwealth’s Biennial Health Insurance survey that looked at coverage of adults across the nation during 2012,  it found that 46% of adults ages 19 to 64 were uninsured in 2012. This means that any of those 46% of people find themselves without the ability to visit a doctor. As far as I’m concerned I see only two rational solutions to this troubling dilemma.

The first option would be to mandate all hospitals to cover not only testing for COVID-19 but also any treatment that results from the testing. Currently, there is no agreement making sure that people seeking treatment will not have to pay co-pays. If the hospitals covered the testing, more people like myself would be able to get tested if they show symptoms and not have to worry about the burden of cost.

The second option would be for the government to create a single payer healthcare system (medicare for all) and replace the current privatized system. The creation of one government run healthcare system would allow anyone to receive the care they need by any doctor without out of pocket expenses. Some people argue that this would be a lengthy and expensive process, but if this is how prepared the United States healthcare system was for a pandemic, it is obviously not working for the average American.

Another opposition argument to a single payer system is that most people like their plans and would be upset if they had to change doctors. First off, under a single payer system patients would be able to see any doctor and not have to pay out of pocket. Also, according to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, consumer choice is directly involved in only about one-fourth of plan changes and that most changing is the result of a job change or a change in employers’ plan offerings.

Now the next thing to lack it is the cost. Sure, the process of switching all healthcare providers into one system is expensive, but cost isn’t only equal to money. The cost of a human life is irreplaceable. Sure, you may have to pay a small amount more on taxes, but if my dollar is being used to save lives I have no issue there. Many people die every day because they can’t afford to go to a doctor and would rather suffer through. Especially in a time where the pandemic we face equates to a great war, the benefits of
having an efficient healthcare system is paramount. The United States needs to join the rest of the industrialized world and offer healthcare as a human right.

Time and time again stories of people rationing their medication because of cost come out and nothing has been done. Commonwealth’s
Biennial Health Insurance Survey also found that 43% of adults say they have not filled a prescription or have decided not to pursue needed medical care because the cost is too high. I am extremely lucky that I am a college student and have access to the campus clinic, because without it I would be without medication I desperately need. I refuse to sit by and watch people die because companies are worried about making a quick buck. This is the time where we all need to come together as a nation and finally stop letting companies profit off of people’s wellness.

For a nation that prides itself on innovation and the ability to work your way into whatever you want to be, I find it disgusting that the profits of wealthy corporations have become more important than the lives of American civilians. The time is now that we ask ourselves as a nation to stand together to stop the spread of this awful pandemic and use this opportunity to offer healthcare as a human right.