Breaking Deadly Records: The U.S. Healthcare System

Michael Nagle / Bloomberg

During the spring of 2020, an estimated 5.4 million people who lost their jobs, also lost their health insurance. The only other time in recent history when so many people lost access to coverage was during the 2008-2009 recession, when 3.9 million people became uninsured. The U.S. has managed to break its own record by 39 percent. Some studies are projecting that a total of 10.1 million people will have lost access to healthcare by the end of 2020.

The Trump administration has done nothing but ignore this issue. Instead, from the beginning, it has attempted to destroy the U.S.’s already weak public healthcare system. Many people will have no choice but to purchase their own health insurance, which is just a slap in the face at a time when over 30 million people are currently receiving unemployment, and the country is experiencing the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Others will have to depend on the already overextended and underfunded public healthcare system, and many will simply refrain from getting care, making this public crisis a lot worse.

But while millions of people experience massive instability, the largest health insurers in the country have been making record profits since the beginning of the pandemic. Anthem, Humana, and others have doubled their profits since last year. These companies have saved millions of dollars by not having to pay for expensive elective surgeries that have been postponed. They have also benefited from reduced visits to ERs and primary care clinics. There is absolutely no reason, other than the drive for profit, that these companies shouldn’t be forced to ensure access to healthcare for all.

In any period, this number of uninsured people would be disastrous, but at a time when the country is experiencing the impact of a pandemic that has already cost the lives of 185,000 people, the sheer criminality of this situation is glaring.