This week will mark my 4th month working from home because of COVID-19. In NYC, we are currently in parts of Phase 3 and it is beginning to feel more like summer. Elsewhere in the country, everything is falling apart. As New York struggled through our outbreak, states elsewhere stressed that the virus would not ravage them the way New York had been ravaged. Many states reopened early and people ignored advice on wearing masks and practicing social distancing in public. Now as many states are preparing for children to go back to school, they find themselves in a position where that may not be a reality. America which is supposed to be the greatest country on earth is still battling the coronavirus with daily cases over 60,000. As we look at other countries opening back up we must ask ourselves, how did we get here?
America spends more money on healthcare than any other country in the world, 3.6 trillion dollars annually. Despite this hefty price tag, we are also one of the unhealthiest countries in the world. Obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure account for many visits to the doctor every year thanks to our diets consisting of fast and convenient food and our poor healthcare system
Americans pride themselves on their independence and ability to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. It’s ironic that Americans are more willing to pay for a quick fix pill than do the actual work and hold ourselves accountable for our own health. In this country, we spend $237 billion dollars a year on diabetes treatments when it’s a disease that can be prevented and managed by a change of diet. Our healthcare system is set up to make the most money not to help us manage our health. America spends about 5% to 7% of healthcare to primary care even though places with more primary care systems have healthier populations and lower overall healthcare costs. Other developed nations spend twice as much on primary care.
The American idea of pulling yourself up by your bootstrap does not mesh well with the idea of communal care. Other countries have a better understanding that the whole is greater than the parts and their citizens are willing to wear masks to protect not just themselves but the community. We are more concerned with our temporary discomfort than with hundreds of thousands of Americans losing their lives.
In 2018, America spent $10,000 per person on healthcare while other European countries spent half as much. This country has invested in private health care, but not in public health. The Coronavirus pandemic is a public health crisis in a sector that has lost 60,000 jobs since 2009. Combine that with a complete lack of central leadership, healthcare tied to employment coupled with rising unemployment and you have the perfect storm. It’s a shame that it is the citizens that are paying for it, not those in power.
I was hoping that by this time, we would have better control of the Coronavirus in this country. I wanted to be able to spend some time with my family, and friends as I do every summer. As I watch the news and see the complete disregard for personal responsibility, I wonder if we understand that we are hurting ourselves. The longer we take to get this under control, the longer it will take for us to get back to a sense of normalcy. I’m just sad that thousands of people have to die in order for us to learn that lesson.