The Healthcare industry and hospitals are facing catastrophic challenges due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic has highlighted many gaps in our healthcare system and pointed the way toward reforms that can improve our ability to cope with the future epidemic. The pandemic has impacted our healthcare industry in several ways. Here we will discuss some major impacts.
Loss of lives
The immediate and direct impact of COVID-19 was the loss of lives. Around 964,774 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of March 2022 (Statista, 2022). Till the year 2020 around 375000 lives were lost. During the surge of the pandemic, many hospitals prioritized the treatment of COVID-19 patients and that has attributed to an increase in time-sensitive non-COVID-19 deaths (Chan, Cheng, & Martin, 2021). According to a research study, the COVID-19 affected the female and male populations differently. Around 77% of the male and 93% of the female population died due to direct or indirect effects of COVID-19. Many healthcare personnel (HCP) lost their lives due to close contact with infected patients and the unavailability of personal protective equipment. According to CDC around 115000, healthcare workers have died from COVID-19 from the start of 2020 till 2021 (CDC, 2021).
For the first time, the crippling financial crisis intimidated the viability of a significant number of hospitals and different healthcare settings. Especially those who were already financially vulnerable such as hospitals in rural and remote areas, primary care practices, and safety-net providers (Barnett, Mehrotra, & Landon, 2020). The reason for this crisis is unexpected fluctuations in demand for healthcare services and increased demand for acute care that overburdened some hospitals. According to an estimate, hospitals have lost $323.1 billion till the year 2020 (Barnett et al., 2020). By May 2020 employment in the healthcare industry was declined by more than 1 million jobs. The sudden surge of the pandemic has substantially damaged health insurance coverage in the United States. Due to increased unemployment, many Americans lost their employer-sponsored insurance. A recent survey by Commonwealth Fund revealed that around 40% of respondents said that they had insurance through the job that was lost (Blumenthal, Fowler, Abrams, & Collins, 2020). Continued reliance on employer-sponsored insurance and failure to implement the current law (ACA) are the main reason for this coverage crisis.
Ethnic and racial disparities in the healthcare system
Racial and ethnic inequalities become a major crisis causing the failure of our healthcare system to care for persons regardless of their color or race. The reason for this inequality is failure to insure people of all races. Lack of implementation of ACA and poor coverage results in limited access to care and a high prevalence of the disease among minorities. Social disparities left people of different ethnic groups and colors more vulnerable to the devastations of COVID-19 (Nelson, 2002). According to research that black people of America account for more than 22% and Hispanics constituted 33% of total death in America due to COVID-19 (Millett et al., 2020).
United States reported 24% of the total deaths occurred due to COVID-19 globally (Blumenthal et al., 2020). That reflects the collapse of the healthcare system to identify and control the spread of the virus. Unavailability of country-wide testing facilities delayed imposing of physical distancing guidelines, and lack of leadership has played role in the current crisis of the healthcare industry and uncontrolled spread of novel coronavirus.
Barnett, M. L., Mehrotra, A., & Landon, B. E. (2020). Covid-19 and the upcoming financial crisis in health care. NEJM Catalyst Innovations in Care Delivery, 1(2).
Blumenthal, D., Fowler, E. J., Abrams, M., & Collins, S. R. (2020). Covid-19—implications for the health care system (Vol. 383, pp. 1483-1488): Mass Medical Soc.
CDC. (2021). WHO estimate: 115,000 health workers have died from Covid-19, as calls for vaccine access grow. Retrieved from https://www.statnews.com/2021/10/21/who-estimate-115000-health-workers-have-died-from-covid-19-as-calls-for-vaccine-access-grow/
Chan, E. Y., Cheng, D., & Martin, J. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 on excess mortality, life expectancy, and years of life lost in the United States. PloS one, 16(9), e0256835.
Millett, G. A., Jones, A. T., Benkeser, D., Baral, S., Mercer, L., Beyrer, C., . . . Crowley, J. S. (2020). Assessing differential impacts of COVID-19 on black communities. Annals of epidemiology, 47, 37-44.
Nelson, A. (2002). Unequal treatment: confronting racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Journal of the national medical association, 94(8), 666.
Statista. (2022). Deaths in US due to COVID-19. from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1101932/coronavirus-covid19-cases-and-deaths-number-us-americans/