The COVID-19 Crisis Is Showing Why We Need Universal Healthcare in the U.S.

The ongoing nightmare of COVID 19 and the global pandemic has revealed major differences between countries. One of the most prominent differences involves the provision of health care services to citizens of the world by their respective countries.  And the United States is coming in looking abysmally bad, backwards, and abusive to those living with job insecurity. As a result of COVID-19, the unemployment claims in the U.S. have topped 16 million in the last three weeks, and many, if not most of these people, just lost their health insurance, as did all their dependents. This crisis has caused human suffering just as a result of the loss of health insurance that is impossible to really comprehend for the average human mind. It is beyond us to some degree; we are barely capable of registering that in the lives of countless people, health care related bankruptcy now looms large.  Prescription drug costs alone for these people are no doubt staggering, and for people with life-threatening conditions such as HIV or diabetes, where necessary medicines can be impossible pricey, the consequences of this loss of insurance will be felt by real people for potentially years, and even generations, to come.

When Biden became the sole candidate left who is challenging Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders left the presidential race, Bernie, in good faith, endorsed Biden’s campaign.  Progressives began to call for Biden to take seriously the ideas of the far-left platform as important to young people, the working poor, and marginalized communities, among them communities of color. AOC was among people who called for Biden to really take seriously that he needs a clear plan to address health care as a concern for people.  What is Biden’s plan?  I will tell you what it needs to be in three straight words: UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE.

The idea of universal health care is far overdue in the US.  Many countries already have a comprehensive system of health care that provides for all citizens and as a result, they have a better quality of life for their people.  All Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, and many other countries simply provide health care.  It is considered a universal human right. 

People who have done cost analysis in the U.S. have discovered repeatedly is that this idea is not economically unfeasible; in fact, repeatedly it has been shown to have a cost benefit that it will reduce the cost of health care due to limiting the overheads of insurance companies.

The cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. is criminal.  To deny people life-saving medication out of a desire for enormously wealthy pharmaceutical companies to make a profit is inhumane, unethical, immoral, and downright evil.

Additionally, the increased inaccessibility of abortion in many places in the country, as well as access to reproductive health services, means young vulnerable women are going to be having children that they might otherwise have chosen not to bear.  This fact of the current Supreme Court, and the aggressive pro-life movement is additionally inhumane and abusive when we realize that people have to become pregnant and bear children knowing they do not have access to prenatal care, and that their babies might not have health care. Who are we as a county to force people to have children, but refuse to allow them access to medical care?

Now that we see the frightening fragility that the people who are living with job insecurity face, can the takeaway from this be that we need to guarantee health care for all?

I sincerely hope that Biden sees this crisis clearly, and the ramifications that are glaringly obvious to many of us who were somewhat reluctant to take this step.  We need universal health care now.  Biden needs to make it a goal of his presidency, for our sake as citizens, and for the sake of all of us who want to unite behind being a better country for everyone, not just the elite, powerful, and wealthy.

In every hardship there is ease. In every hardship there is ease.  If the ease that can emerge from COVID for us is in universal health care, and a Biden presidency, maybe the human disaster that we face will have some benefit.  The other option, to continue to stand by as millions suffer due to the collective inaction of the government, is an unacceptable human cost that we must all resist.

Sarah is a social worker and certified alcohol and drug counselor in the San Francisco Bay Area, the traditional land of the Ohlone people. She likes to paint, drum, sing, and spend quality time with her family and God.