Mar 16, 2020
To slow down the inevitable spread of the coronavirus, we only need to take three simple steps, according to the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. health protection agency: wash our hands, stay home from work if we feel sick, and speak to a doctor if we have symptoms of the disease.
It is very simple to recite these steps: everybody already knows them by heart and hard life experience. But they are not simple steps to take for the working class.
For example, many workers cannot simply “speak” to a doctor. Many workers avoid medical help because of the cost, since health insurance plans are expensive with unaffordable deductibles and co-pays. Due to high healthcare costs, in one year, more than once, about 40% of U.S. workers skipped a medical test or treatment, and 44% didn’t go to the doctor when they were sick or injured, according to a 2018 poll by the University of Chicago and the West Health Institute.
And around 30 million people have no health insurance at all, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
These healthcare costs will make the coronavirus pandemic worse, as one worker’s case exemplifies. Osmel Martinez Azcue, who usually skipped visits to a doctor, decided to get tested when he developed flu-like symptoms after returning from China in January, according to The Guardian. While he would normally just go to a drugstore and buy medicine, he went to a hospital out of concern for his community.
Azcue had a limited insurance plan, so he attempted to keep the testing to a minimum, fearing the cost of the chest scan clinicians recommended. After doing smaller, less expensive tests, doctors told him he had the flu, not coronavirus. He was charged $3,270. After the hospital was contacted by the Miami Herald, they said he was responsible for $1,400 of the bill.
“How can they expect normal citizens to contribute to eliminating the potential risk of person-to- person spread if hospitals are waiting to charge us $3,270 for a simple blood test and a nasal swab?” Azcue said.
The healthcare industry, solely driven by profit, are the sole creators of these high healthcare costs. And this coronavirus pandemic starkly exposes the deadly consequences for all of us.