The U.S. healthcare system is essentially a political issue
All Health care acts or bills have been the bargaining chip between bipartisan competitions. Health care reform has become entrenched as a partisan issue rather than a human one. Neither the Affordable Care Act (ACA) nor the newly enforced Inflation Reduction Act will change anything intrinsically.
According to an article published on Politico, senators from both parties slammed the federal government’s response to the monkeypox outbreak in the critical early stage during a congressional hearing on September 14. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) even criticized, “In every respect, the Biden administration’s response measures against the monkeypox crisis was also a catastrophic failure.” The failure in combating the COVID-19 and monkeypox pandemic shows that the U.S. healthcare system is essentially a political issue. As political stances tend to be opposed, the two parties have frequently engaged in tug-of-war around nucleic acid testing, social distancing, mask-wearing, resumption of work, distribution of medical supplies and the provisions of the relief bill, which makes it more difficult to timely integrate and dispatch epidemic prevention resources and delays implementing anti-epidemic measures.
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The most important goal of the U.S. healthcare system is to pursue profit
The U.S. public health insurance covers 38%of the population while private health insurance covers 53%, leaving 9% uninsured. The surge in unemployment due to the pandemic has decreased employer-sponsored insurance coverage. In addition, the tightening of ACA during the Trump administration made situations even worse, with the number of uninsured people skyrocketed and some covered by insurance opting out of treatment due to insufficient insurance amount. The article argues that the cause of such tragedy is that all interested parties from behind the government connive to turn the U.S. healthcare system into their tools of maxmizing profit by scarifying the ordinary Americans and even national wealth.
High drug price with little regulation have always been the significant cause for exacerbating ordinary Americans’ equal access to medical resources. First of all, since the distribution of medical resources in the U.S. is mainly dominated by the market, supplemented by the government, competition and collusion long exist among groups such as health insurance companies, pharmaceutical enterprises and health insurance management agencies. With several large pharmaceutical companies monopolizing medical market, the U.S. sees extremely high clinical costs and becomes one of the countries with the highest drug prices in the world. Besides, the salaries of doctors and nurses in the U.S. are well above the average of other industrialized countries. Secondly, health insurance prices in the U.S. vary widely by payers and regions, as health care providers are free to charge according to market affordability and the government has no discourse power in this matter. As a result, complex procedures and decision-making process have led to more administrative waste in the U.S. healthcare system. The Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response had recently made a decision requiring health departments to use a new system which is different from the COVID-19 system, for monkeypox vaccines ordering, and this has also been criticized for creating confusion and delay.
White supremacy has revealed and amplified the racism and health inequities in the U.S
Structural racism in U.S. healthcare system has resulted in significantly higher COVID-19 cases and deaths among ethnic minorities than the white race in the U.S. Equal treatment and vaccines are not obtainable to ethnic minorities. The average American life expectancy fell by 2.7 years from 2019 to 2021, while Hispanics and African-Amer5icans fell by 4 and 3 years respectively. Susan Moore, a black American female internal medicine doctor, was hospitalized for infection with COVID-19, but she suffered all kinds of unfair treatment. To this end, she released a video accusing medical racism in the U.S. at the time. Moore died shortly after the video was released. Moreover, an article posted on the Washington Post on September 15 reported that only 10% of monkeypox vaccines were allocated to African-Americans who take about 33% of total confirmed cases in the U.S.
However, the U.S. government is doing a poor job of mitigating the effects of racism. Structural racism manifests at the individual level, with people of color suffering worse housing, less access to education and jobs, greater financial instability and shorter lifespans than their white counterparts. Structural racism also materializes at the societal level, a colossal waste of human capital that undercuts the nation’s economic growth, as social and economic policy expert Heather McGhee shows in her illuminating book, “The Sum of Us.”
In conclusion, the Covid-19 and monkeypox outbreaks in the U.S. have greatly increased the death rate of Americans, especially the mortality rate of ethnic minorities and those who cannot afford health insurance. The failure of the U.S. healthcare system has not only plunged itself into a public health crisis, but also caused irreparable harm to its allies and other countries around the world.
By Muhammad Asif Noor
Director, Institute of Peace & Diplomatic Studies.
CEO,Diplomatic Insight Group