The covid-19 pandemic has led to massive human life loss in the US. Notably, the pandemic has exposed vital concerns in implementing the pandemic plan. By August 2020, the US had exceeded approximately 5 million Covid cases representing more than a quarter of the global cases. Among the significant issues that led to the failure of the implemented plan to curtail the spread of the pandemic include a late response to the emergency, inadequate investment in healthcare infrastructure compared to other developed nations, and privatized health-based system that is ill-equipped to deal with a pandemic. The success of dealing with such a pandemic depends on evidence-based science, political goodwill, investment in public infrastructure, and orienting US healthcare to the public system.
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Failed Healthcare Plan in Dealing with Covid -19 in the USA
The pandemic has exposed the longstanding healthcare system in the US, such as access barriers, unregulated pricing, unacceptable quality, and inequality (Geyman, 2021). The Covid-19 pandemic created a massive shift in how the healthcare system interacts with patients and the staff. By the onset of the pandemic, the US was ranked the most prepared nation for handling biological threats (Schismenos et al., 2020). However, as the pandemic spread globally, the US public healthcare was the most exposed. The vast privatized healthcare market is ill-equipped to respond adequately to emergencies. Additionally, the forthcoming economic downturn exemplifies these challenges and the failure of depending on the for-profit private health industry. Through a declaration on March 2020 by then the US president Trump, several executives and financial powers intended to subdue the significant public health crises were enacted, such as the lockdown, work, and shelter at homes program. However, by October 2020, more than 7.5 million covid-19 cases had been confirmed and over 200,000 deaths (Xu & Basu, 2020). Some of the causes for the Covid-19 healthcare plan failure include late response, privatization of healthcare, and underinvestment in healthcare infrastructure,
While the pandemic was unprecedented, some nations were more and adequately prepared to respond effectively than the US, a powerful country. In the initial spread of the virus, the Government official had consistently mishandled the prevention and containment by downplaying its severity or enacting inefficient screening protocols. Contrary information to scientific evidence was accepted by continuously ignoring the severity of the condition to reassure the public (Xu & Basu, 2020). In case of possible events that might cause widespread destruction, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends four-measure phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. The US only took severe measures after China’s lockdown, and WHO characterized the virus as a public health emergency (Schismenos et al., 2020). The false sense of safety and the elected official belief that the disease was just regular flu led to the complacency of the virus-prevention plan.
Other than the unpreparedness, the US does not have a coherent healthcare system. For instance, an armed service veteran can access government-run health services. Medicare covers the elderly, the poor are partially covered by the state-run Medicaid system, and the employment has various insurance. These types of insurers of US healthcare include privately operating a fee-for-fee service model. Additionally, Obama Care offers insurance coverage that allows individuals to avoid high premiums (Geyman, 2021). Tackling the pandemic was challenging given the deficiency of private health insurance. The 150 million employers sponsored insurance individuals were left to cater for themselves in case of job loss, with 40% losing their jobs (Rhodes 2021). Health insurance is massively dependent on employer-sponsored coverage averaging $685 billion annually. Many individuals avoided hospitals and clinics during the initial pandemic, and significant insurers were prospering while the minor medical practices were struggling (Rhodes 2021). The uneven, individualistic-oriented health system overseen by the late response from the administration created a fatal condition to implement them effectively preventive plan.
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Third, the underinvestment in public health infrastructure led to the covid-19 combating failure. While the nation has a historical backing of significant medical-industrial complex investment, the public health system has reluctantly evolved. The rise of profit-making health institutions has led to the growth of private entities instead of the public health system (Xu & Basu, 2020). While the free-market-based approach in a deregulated marketplace has led to more choice, the efficiency of public health has deteriorated, unable to deal with emergencies such as the Covid-19 pandemic. The last few decades in the US have proved that consolidation among hospitals networks only leads to higher pricing, restricted choices, and poor quality of patient care (Schismenos et al., 2020). Privatized Medicare and Medicare are more costly and offer worse care than public health. The US remains the only advanced nation with no national universal health coverage system, which leads to more expenditure but lower quality care than other industrialized nations. The rational ignorance in public health investment has jeopardized the critical plan to curb the pandemic. Evidence from East Asian countries suggests the federal government had a fundamental role in planning and management, especially on health emergencies such as the pandemic (Geyman, 2021).
In summary, the failure of the Covid-19 plan in the US has exposed several weaknesses of the public healthcare system. The most affected areas have been on public health and emergency management. Other developed nations with public financing systems, government response, Universal health coverage, a stronger core foundation, and public health infrastructure have performed better than in the US. The US plan failure was inevitable but did not have to be permanent. History dictates that the US federal government is a leader rather than a follower in national crises, and it is unusual for the nation to divide instead of unity during crises. The government needs to reevaluate and realign its relation to public health emergencies, increase investment in health infrastructure, increase evidence-based administration, and invest massively in public health. Political goodwill is also necessary for the success of managing emergency health situations.
Francisco, C. A. (2020). Understanding the US failure on coronavirus—an essay by Drew Altman. BMJ, 370, m3417.
Xu, H. D., & Basu, R. (2020). How the United States Flunked the COVID-19 test: some observations and several lessons. The American Review of Public Administration, 50(6-7), 568-576.
Geyman, J. (2021). COVID-19 Has Revealed America’s Broken Health Care System: What Can We Learn?. International Journal of Health Services, 51(2), 188-194.
Schismenos, S., Smith, A. A., Stevens, G. J., & Emmanouloudis, D. (2020). Failure to lead on COVID-19: what went wrong with the United States?. International Journal of Public Leadership.
Rhodes, M. (2021). ‘Failing forward’: a critique in light of covid-19. Journal of European Public Policy, 28(10), 1537-1554.