The United States are struggling to contain the Corona outbreak as its government has little oversight over actual infections and the spread of the disease. One reason for this, some have claimed, is that the millions of Americans with no or limited healthcare insurance are reluctant to see a doctor or take a test when they show (mild) symptoms of infection. They are afraid of medical bills for tests, further treatment and the costs of quarantine measures. At least one patient already received a bill for more than $3.000.
What does this mean?
In contrast to some of China’s more drastic measures, e.g. locking down entire cities, most Western nations take a relatively relaxed approach to fighting the virus outbreak. All of this centers around early detection of individual cases and monitoring those who they been in contact with. In the US testing took off slow due to manufacturing problems and a lack of clarity with respect to the coverage of costs. Only last week did several states and private insurance companies announce they would cover all costs of testing (still leaving the uninsured with no coverage at all).
Healthcare is already a major theme among the Democratic Presidential candidates with Bernie Sanders pushing for a national health insurance program and Joe Biden seeking to restore and strengthen Obamacare. The Corona outbreak, when it escalates further, could very well sway more Americans to support a more inclusive health care system. Not only because it would benefit currently uninsured individuals, but also because of collective interests in a healthy and well-monitored society.