People in other nations spend less on health care than Americans do. The piecemeal nature of the American medical insurance system causes a lot of preventable deaths. The US has an elevated mortality rate compared to other high-income countries.
The impact of the Pandemic on Americans who didn't have health insurance was quantified. More than 338,000 lives could have been saved if universal health care had been in place during the Pandemic. In a nonpandemic year, the U.S. could have saved $438 billion in health care costs due to hospitalizations from the disease.
According to the study, health care reform is needed in the U.S. Americans lose lives and money.
People who don't have insurance are more likely to suffer from preventable diseases such as type 2 diabetes. They are more likely to wait to see a doctor when they are sick. The impact of COVID-19 has already contributed to higher mortality rates in nonpandemic years. Waiting to seek care increases the chance of transmission of the disease.
Prior to the Pandemic, 28 million Americans were uninsured and 9 million lost their insurance because of unemployment. "Many Americans feel secure in having good health insurance from their employer, but employer-based insurance can be cut off when it's necessary most."
The team compared the mortality risks of people with and without insurance, as well as their risks of all other causes of death. The researchers took into account things such as age-specific life expectancy and the elevation in mortality associated with a lack of insurance when calculating population characteristics. More than 130,000 people could have been saved from dying of COVID in 2020. More than 338,000 deaths could have been avoided if more than 200,000 additional deaths had been prevented.
The cost to protect the entire American population was estimated by the researchers. More efficient investment in preventative care, lower administrative costs and increased negotiating power are some of the ways a single-payer health care system can save money. The authors found that this would save $469 billion in 2020 and $438 billion in a non-pandemic year. A life-saving transformation of our health care system would be achieved by Medicare for All. It will cost less than the current system.
Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the work, said that the findings are very convincing and that the methodology strikes him as exactly right. The savings estimates are in line with other estimates.
According to Ann Keller, an associate professor of health policy and management at U.C. Berkeley, the new study likely underestimates the deaths that could have been avoided through universal health care because it doesn't consider the lower rates of chronic disease. Keller, who was not involved with the research, says that having consistent access to care can prevent chronic disease from occurring. The estimates of avoided deaths would be greater than the numbers reported here.
The message that comes out of the new study is that single-payer health care is both economically responsible and morally important.