Over the last year, hospitals and their intensive care units have been stretched to the breaking point caring for the huge number of people desperately ill with the coronavirus. What is the impact of COVID-19 on American health care? Will the changes we have seen to date continue?
Days and weeks in the hospital add up to some mighty big bills. Who is paying? Many of those hit hardest by the pandemic didn’t have insurance. Although the federal government picked up many of the bills, not everyone knew that. Moreover, people who were extremely sick with COVID-like symptoms but who tested negative did not qualify for assistance with their bills. Do we need to re-evaluate how we pay for health care?
Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal has written about the business of health care. The biggest failure in the US was the public health system that should have been ready to do contact tracing and help people isolate themselves to keep from infecting others was not ready. How can we strengthen it so that we will be better prepared in the future? Dr. Rosenthal describes what a public health system might look like and what it could do.
For much of the past year, people under stay-at-home orders were reluctant to seek out routine medical care. Some have skipped cancer screenings. What is the impact of COVID-19 on health care for other conditions?
The infection ran rampant, especially in poor neighborhoods and communities of color. Their residents are far more likely to be essential workers who can’t work from home to avoid infection. In addition, their jobs don’t always provide excellent health insurance.
In the future, will health care be able to focus once again on healing and less on maximizing profits? Many people will suffer the aftermath of COVID-19 infections. Will those with post-COVID syndrome get the assistance they need? These questions don’t yet have answers.
Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, Editor-in-Chief, joined Kaiser Health News in September 2016 after 22 years as a correspondent with The New York Times, where she covered a variety of beats from health care to environment and did a stint in the Beijing bureau. While in China, she covered SARS, bird flu and the emergence of HIV/AIDS in rural areas. Her book, An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back was a New York Times best-seller and a Washington Post notable book of the year. After graduating from Harvard Medical School, Dr. Rosenthal briefly practiced medicine in a New York City emergency room before converting to journalism. The photo of Dr. Rosenthal is copyright Nina Subin.