The United States of America does not have universal healthcare and despite having a huge number of private hospitals equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, a very large part of the population cannot afford healthcare in case a situation arises. A former health insurance official claims that despite coronavirus, the industry is doing well.
The COVID-19 pandemic will worsen the financial standings of millions of Americans who will not be able to afford healthcare in order to tackle the virus. With rising health plan deductibles, 1 in 3 Americans received no medical care due to the rising costs. Since the virus does not have a vaccine, only essential and preventive care is the way out for infected patients.
Policy solutions are available to quickly mitigate the healthcare implications that the pandemic has brought forward. Reforms like the commonsense value-based insurance design (V-BID) will be implemented to enable people to afford critical clinical services. Trump administration also implemented ‘High Deductible Health Plans and Expenses Related to COVID-19) reform to eliminate cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and treatment. This policy also involves high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) that were previously not covering COVID-19 related services.
Rise of telemedicine:
Telemedicine or telehealth is the practice of remote-caring for patients due to physical restrictions that can stem from all kinds of situations. One of the most fundamental changes that COVID-19 will bring is the rapid implementation of telemedicine. Earlier, this practice faced challenges arising from bad policies, restriction of practices across states, as well as the general public’s mistrust over the practice of remote healthcare. Medical practitioners were also not very keen on giving telemedicine consultations because its remote nature led them to receive a lower reimbursement than an average physical visit by a patient.
However, with social distancing practices being implemented and the absolute need to stay isolated and not venture out of homes, telemedicine seems to be the only innovation that would allow patients to receive consultations from doctors.
Implementing stringent surveillance measures:
Anticipating the impact of COVID-19 was not an impossibility. Most countries who are now witnessing thousands of cases every day were not prepared well enough in advance to flatten the curve and implement strategies that would allow for the virus to not spread rapidly. Proper surveillance measures like screenings at airports and other sensitive areas, implementing sanitizing gates in office parks, and other busy public spaces that witness huge crowds and creating emergency funding to tackle future epidemics are being considered.
Changes in drug development:
When COVID-19 first appeared globally, it triggered a race to find treatment and vaccines for eliminating the disease. Drug development has always been a fundamental part of healthcare and each year, the cost for a new drug to be developed increases exponentially. The Journal of Health Economics in May 2019 gave an estimated cost of $2.6 billion for a new drug to develop. With epidemics such as COVID-19 on the rise, clinical trials, and drug development processes will observe a rise to help eliminate potential threats in the future.
What nobody knows for sure, not even people who have been directly involved with US health policy for years is whether the coronavirus pandemic leads to any permanent political realignment. We can only hope that with each new year, we see healthcare transforming for the better and is more equipped with dealing with a similar situation; should they ever arise.