American Healthcare: A Failure Beyond Understanding
By: Alejandro Rios, reporter
As we go through a pandemic, healthcare is an essential component of our lives that cannot be forgotten about, but as the nation with the most deaths worldwide, it leads us to question: what is the state of the American healthcare system?
The World Health Organization, or WHO, runs tests to rank countries’ healthcare systems. In the WHO’s last test, it was found that the United States spends the most per capita on healthcare, at around $10,209. Despite this, the United States healthcare system placed 37th on healthcare performance and 72nd on health; why? One would assume that because America spends the most on its people, they would have the best healthcare. To compare, the country ranked 1st for their healthcare system is France, where they spend $4,508 per capita on healthcare and rank 4th on health.
The problem with the American healthcare system stems from two significant concepts: it is not public or universal. Universal healthcare is when the government assures its citizens that they will have healthcare, and public healthcare is when the government provides its citizens with healthcare. The United States has private healthcare, where citizens directly pay for healthcare and have to seek for their healthcare provider.
Another issue with America’s healthcare system is that many Americans get their healthcare from their employer. As Nevadans face a 28% unemployment rate, where can Americans get their healthcare?
Beatriz Montes, a resident of Las Vegas, was laid off from her job in May due to COVID-19. Montes relied on this job for the healthcare of her family. “It is absurd that when I lost my job I lost my healthcare. How am I supposed to pay for health insurance when I don’t have a job.” Montes was part of the aforementioned 28% of Nevadans facing unemployment and now a lack of healthcare during a raging pandemic. “All of the options I was looking at were expensive.” Montes directly references options that would require her to pay $1,400 a month for health insurance for her family. “I eventually was directed to Medicaid for coverage,” she said. Medicaid is the USA's version of public insurance, which only applies to those with low income, or in some cases, unemployment.
The United States’ healthcare system is in shambles. COVID has only outlined this further. Michael Flor, resident of Seattle and COVID survivor, left the hospital in Seattle, a survivor of COVID at 70. His hospital bill was one million dollars, far more than the average American can afford for one trip. While this was happening, people in Spain left the hospital, survivors of COVID, and they would not have to pay a penny, why? They have public healthcare.
Nevadans are currently facing the highest rate of unemployment in the nation during incredibly difficult times, and atop that, they are facing a healthcare crisis. Where are their citizens supposed to turn to if they are sick?
The American healthcare system is grossly expensive and unreliable.
Photo Credit: Alejandro Rios