The health system has really stepped up in a very heroic way during these unprecedented times in order to meet the challenges we face during Covid-19. All the challenges they face have created extreme financial pressures for America’s hospitals and healthcare systems. As so many Americans across the country have already been infected, hospitals have amped up in many different ways with testing efforts and treating hundreds of thousands of people in order to minimize the spread.
Hospitals everywhere of every type, whether they are private, public, rural, or urban, will be taking a big toll due to Covid-19. Not only are they doing everything they can to keep their doctors, nurses, other staff and patients safe and healthy despite a shortage of supplies, but many hospitals have had to postpone or cancel elective surgeries like heart surgeries and even cancer treatments because of Covid-19. Procedures like these are usually what accounts for a lot of the annual revenue for hospitals. Without that money, hospitals are forced to lay off their staff, even if it is just temporary, in order to keep their doors open and their lights on.
With these losses in revenue, the hospitals have been met with huge increases in costs for hospitals since the pandemic has begun. In parts of the country, Covid-19 outbreaks have resulted in swells of hospitalizations and ICU patients as a result of this pandemic. It is estimated that treating a Covid-19 patient could cost the hospital more than $20,000 and even over $80,000 for those patients who require a ventilator for support.
On the flip side, telemedicine, which has struggled to really take off for years and reach its full potential, has finally gotten a chance to shine. As government officials are urging people to stay away from doctor’s offices and hospitals unless absolutely necessary in fear of being exposed. Telemedicine was previously limited due to a combination of bad policies. The trump administration has recently relaxed Medicare rules, which previously only covered telemedicine visits between seniors and doctors in rural areas so that the telehealth visits for all seniors are covered.
One thing that we have learned from this is that we should invest in more public health preparedness and surveillance. Cuts that were made to the Centers for Disease Control that monitor outbreaks such as these made it harder for the US to see what was coming and make plans to fight back before it even struck.
In the future, there will also likely be more ambition to expand health care coverage. Many people went untested or untreated due to the fact that they could not afford it. In any case, the events of this pandemic are nothing like we have seen or likely will see again for a long while. There really is no way to be fully prepared for something like this, but through error, we can only get better.