9 Ways COVID-19 May Forever Upend the U.S. Health Care Industry
May 27, 2020
In the U.S. alone, COVID-19 has claimed nearly 100,000 lives and 30 million jobs. Beyond grinding day-to-day life to a halt, the pandemic has prompted a reckoning throughout the country’s health care infrastructure, shattering decades-old assumptions about how Americans conceive of medicine, and the doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers they pay to provide it. Already, the coronavirus has led to sweeping changes in who can receive care and how they access it. Millions of Americans, newly out of work, are also newly uninsured. Millions more who still have insurance have been forced to delay necessary but noncritical treatments.
At the same time, doctors across the country have been granted broad flexibility to treat patients remotely, using telemedicine, instantly reshaping services ranging from routine checkups to addiction treatment. STAT surveyed a host of prominent health policy experts — top health advisers to both Republican and Democratic presidents, lawmakers, executives, physicians, and top lobbyists — who forecast a new status quo that they say will upend what American health care looks like for decades. Among their predictions: The pandemic could help bring about an end to the American tradition of tying health insurance to employment status. It could prompt a reckoning about why Black people and other historically marginalized populations have long suffered so disproportionately — not just from COVID-19, but from nearly every common health condition. And it could represent the beginning of the end for the very concept of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.