The United States differs from many developed countries in its health care financing system. Suppose in many states there are centralized organizations that provide health insurance for citizens. In that case, the United States is characterized by the absence of a unified, universal health insurance system, in which resources would be concentrated to ensure universal access to it for the population. The third-party, the health insurance system – public and private – acts as a guarantor of the provision of medical care. The coexistence of two insurance systems – private and public – is a specific feature of the American healthcare model. Despite the hard work that Medicare and Medicaid, the most effective public health programs, are undertaking, there are many problems within the US health care system, including financial ones. One of these problems is the lack of funding for medical institutions to preserve the health of attending physicians and nurses, in connection with which the mortality rate of qualified specialists increases due to frequent contact with patients during a pandemic.
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Insufficient funding of medical institutions has negative consequences, especially during a pandemic. Nearly all healthcare facilities have required government funding to provide personal protective equipment for healthcare workers (Rimmer, 2020). The high risks faced by doctors and nurses and previously required PPE, but not everywhere these requirements were met. During the pandemic, the need for PPE increased dramatically, and the infrastructure was not prepared for such an ample supply.
Doctors, nurses, and other workers in medical institutions, including nursing homes, were at high risk. Many of them have a chronic illness and other risk factors for poor outcomes if they become infected. In addition, there is a problem of staff shortages, in part due to these problems (Himmelstein & Woolhandler, 2020). Funding issues also hinge because many health workers do not have health insurance, live in poverty, and cannot get paid sick leave. These factors push employees to work, even if they have specific symptoms that require them to stay at home. The uniqueness of the pandemic called on states to take specific restrictive measures and revise the health care structure in an emergency, but not all of the actions were preventive but rather reactive. Physicians and nurses are already at high risk, and inadequate funding creates a real economic problem that affects many sectors of the population.
Economic trends in the payment system for medical services are usually divided into those paid for by various programs if a person falls into a particular group (people over 65 years old or people with a low income) or on a paid basis. The demand for medical services was at a relatively normal level before the pandemic, after which it increased significantly. Expenditures in the health care system in the USA are constantly growing, and since the previous year, they have increased several times. This growth is associated not only with the pandemic, but the costs are also increasing on digital medicine since remote treatment has become a necessary measure in modern realities. However, not all diseases can be cured with the help of digital medicine; it can relieve doctors and nurses from relatively simple cases when patients only need a recommendation (Schwamm et al., 2020). Digital medicine can be seen as one of the strategies to reduce the risk of infection for medical staff.
Regulatory issues due to the pandemic are likely to change, as the way of life of people changes and various government decrees that include certain restrictions or new regulations. The pandemic has also created an environment of economic uncertainty, as many areas of business have suffered and are on the verge of bankruptcy. The role of disease prevention is also growing, which can be achieved through health education, federal compliance, PPE, and personal hygiene for everyone (Zhao et al., 2020). This strategy can also be considered one of the options for solving the above problem. Moreover, the solution does not require significant financial investments.
As a recommendation to this problem, in addition to the announced solutions, the introduction of universal health insurance, which is currently not mandatory in the United States, will be considered. At a minimum, this idea can be extended as a first iteration only to medical personnel who are at exceptionally high risk in modern realities. An increase in government funding for health care is still a forced measure, but providing the same free care that a particular part of the American population can count on is urgently needed. If the registration of deaths of doctors and nurses continues, the system runs the risk of losing highly qualified specialists, as a result of which the problem will sink even more profound. Against the background of a shortage of PPE, medical equipment, this fact can lead to a crisis, the solution of which will no longer be achieved by financial injections.
The global pandemic COVID-19 has tested the strength of the health care systems of all countries of the world. Finding itself in a difficult situation, the United States now needs to make reactive edits to the established health care system, since at this stage, the demand cannot be met, and the medical staff is at extremely high risk, like never before. Already, there are various strategies for solving this problem, which, nevertheless, take time. Therefore, it is in the interests of the state and its entire population to support the compulsory health insurance program to save the lives of patients, doctors, and nurses in a difficult period of overloaded clinics. This problem will require financial injections, which may turn out to be significant, given the current injections, but will have the desired effect in the long term.
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Himmelstein, D. U., & Woolhandler, S. (2020). Health insurance status and risk factors for poor outcomes with COVID-19 among US health care workers: a cross-sectional study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 173(5), 410-412.
Rimmer, A. (2020). Covid-19: Two thirds of healthcare workers who have died were from ethnic minorities. BMJ, (369).
Schwamm, L. H., Erskine, A., & Licurse, A. (2020). A digital embrace to blunt the curve of COVID19 pandemic. NPJ Digital Medicine, 3(1), 1-3.
Zhao, E., Wu, Q., Crimmins, E. M., & Ailshire, J. A. (2020). Media trust and infection mitigating behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA. BMJ Global Health, 5(10), e003323.