The healthcare systems globally are facing a lot of challenges every single minute. From dealing with the COVID patients with limited staff, equipment, revenue collection and resources to protecting their own workers, health systems are truly going through a very hard time. The people on the other hand are dying and suffering because of inadequate hospital services, less beds, limited ICU, drugs, reimbursements and expenses.
Covid-19 attacks the US Heathcare system
The country’s neoliberal heath system is putting the entire nation at risk. The system is too complex by the fact that unlike medical system, it is actually the heath agencies that serve the first line of defense in case of such calamities.
The years of underfunding of federal, state and local agencies has made the nation ill-prepared for this challenging situation. Although the healthcare is doing their best in diagnosing people yet fear of hospital bills and other expenses are still holding back many in the nation. As per the new law, Medicare-Medicaid, government plans and almost all private plans cover free covid testing yet the treatment cost is still on the shoulders of the people which itself is a huge amount. The problem does not end here, one can be charged based on where are you going to seek medical assistance, is it in-network or out-of-network providers. With more than 30 million uninsured and many underinsured, deductibles, co-pay and treatment expense become devasting and impossible to be handled. With no US insurance and heavy out-of-pocket expenses, international travelers are facing a hard time.
Quarantine has been a rare situation and thus the nation is not prepared to deal with the financial aspect of it as well. Government is rightful in quarantining citizens but no laws states who will be responsible to bear the expenses incurred by hospitals and health systems. On the other hand, this pandemic won’t stop people from having heart attacks, cancer, accidents, child deliveries and other things. It becomes nearly unexplainable on how to deal with such cases with growing unemployment and financial crisis. In the current situation where hospitals and the healthcare system are just primarily looking after covid 19 cases only, there is a need of single payer which not only protects people from heath expenses but also change the current healthcare infrastructure and system.
As per the earlier reports, there could be 200,000 or more Americans in need of most intensive care, a bed and ventilator to be precise. With fewer than 100000 or more ventilators and millions of infected there could be a time to take hard decision on who to give the right to survive and who is left to die. Hospitals are closed in may states not because they are of no use but because they are not profitable. With highest ICU bed supply in the world, we still lack behind with fewer hospital beds. Uncoordinated and ungoverned healthcare is taking a toll on peoples’ lives.
Europe and China Healthcare exposed to the worst situations
The number of COVID-19 cases in increasing at an alarming rate in Europe with more than 160233 cases and 8743 deaths. Even after taking some of the world’s toughest measures, Italy alone contributing to 63927 cases with 6077 deaths at a rate of 600-700 deaths daily. Total 9 to 10 percent of the total confirmed patients have died in Italy while it’s around 4 percent in china and 0.4 percent in Germany. With limited healthcare capacity, ranking 2 highest with older people population, Italy is facing a hell of a time in the history of the world contributing to highest deaths so far after China. The hospital’s intensive care has already reached its maximum limit and currently available for only 6 percent cases. Overwhelmed health systems are taking tough decision on choosing who to get treated and who does not, based on age, severity and other factors. This is all due to flooding covid-19 patients with limited ventilators, beds and medical equipment. There is a huge list mentally and emotionally affected by this epidemic losing their loved ones and fighting the battle of survival without being treated.
China with the most covid-19 cases and deaths in the world also undergone many financial and healthcare limitations. Despite being a rich developed nation, China took months to control the cases that reached to 81,093 in this short span of time. As per the data analysis, cumulative cases per 10000 population vs mortality is positively correlated implicating the death rate is positively correlated with the heath care expense or burden. The logistic hurdles with medical equipment and supplies has accelerated the death rate in China.
Protecting healthcare workers
In China more than 3300 healthcare workers have been infected and more than 20 have died. In Italy, more than 20 percent of the workers are infected and moreover more than 14000 workers all across the world have been infected with covid-19. This is a critical situation regarding the safety of the workers who are working day and night to save our lives, risking their own. Personal Protective Equipment is a key concern. In many countries, workers are deprived of the essential equipment for their protection. Unlike machines and drugs, healthcare workers cannot be manufactured so the government should take care of their safety in order to keep people alive. Essential PPE, proper food, emotional support, rest must be of utmost importance.
Artificial Intelligence is being actively used in the Healthcare systems that uses the current data to predict the next likely location of the infection. In China, companies are using AI algo to identify and compare covid-19 infection studying the images of the lungs with that of other respiratory diseases.
I know it is hard to predict the future outbreak of covid-19 but still few important measures can be taken to make the healthcare systems more robust and versatile in saving the lives of many. Lockdown and other preventive measures may stop the covid-19 chain and lessen the spread but the government must utilize this time and proactively address the situation and prepare the healthcare systems to face the worst because nothing is more important than the lives of the people.