Opinion: COVID-19 exposes fundamental flaws in current healthcare system


Sydney Alper, Editor-in-Chief

As the 2020 presidential election draws closer, health care is once again a subject of great debate. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exposed further flaws in the American health care system, one of the primary issues being that, more often than not, health insurance is provided by employment.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 57.4 million Americans have filed for unemployment, according to Forbes Magazine. 

Of those 57.4 million people, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted research which estimated that since May, 26.8 million people have lost their employer-sponsored health insurance. During a pandemic, this is especially risky because if one of these uninsured people fell sick, especially with the COVID-19 virus, their treatment and medication would not be covered. This is potentially devastating for the many people who simply cannot afford to pay out of pocket for these services.

Even without the added risk of contracting COVID, being able to afford essential medications becomes a much greater challenge without insurance. For example, according to GoodRX, a prescription price comparison site, insulin retails at around $338, but with coupons, the cost can be as low as $122. While this is a significant decrease in the price of the prescription, $122 is still a significant amount of money. With the current rate of unemployment, it is likely that some families may be forced to choose between buying groceries or an insulin prescription. 

This is a choice that nobody should have to make. Insulin is a necessary, life-saving medication for diabetic people, and its inaccessibility is unacceptable. If there is an economic barrier in the way of this medication, people are essentially left to suffer. 

The current pandemic underscores the need for a comprehensive, quality universal healthcare system that can be relied upon to provide  care for all people to live a healthy life. The current situation has shown the fragility of employment and, in turn, the fragility of keeping health insurance. 

It is simply unjust to the millions of people who have lost their jobs that they can now no longer be assured that if they fall sick (from the pandemic or otherwise), they will be covered. It is unjust to those people that if they had a preexisting condition, they could be unable to afford their medication from a combination of loss of income and loss of health insurance.  It is unjust to anyone that they are not secure in knowing that if anything were to happen to them or their families physically, that they would be protected. 

Yet all of this is still a subject of great debate. It is fairly certain that Joe Biden and Donald Trump will debate about healthcare on Sept. 29. And it’s time that this arguing stops. 

Now, more than ever before, there is a need for a strong healthcare system, so we must vote for people who will build that system.