The Social Impact of Mixing Business and Medicine
Founder @ NowSourcing. Contributor @ Hackernoon, Advisor @GoogleSmallBiz, Podcaster, infographics
COVID-19 has been hitting the healthcare system pretty hard these last few weeks. In U.S. hospitals they are now facing critical shortages of equipment. As of the end of March, nearly 1 in 4 hospitals have fewer than 100 N95 masks on hand and 1 in 5 reports immediate need for more ventilators. Already back in February, the FDA reported shortages in drugs related to coronavirus.
Why are hospitals so ill-prepared? Take into account that 26% of U.S. medical goods are imported from China. Before the outbreak imports were costly due to high tariffs, and post-pandemic the Chinese factories faced labor shortages which slowed production.
Hospitals and vendors also adopted practices like “just in time shipping” which reduces inventory held to increase cash flow, which leads to shortages when supply chains are disrupted. And despite the high cost of healthcare, Hospitals in the U.S. only make 1.8% profit on patient care. Hospitals simply can’t afford to buy more ventilators at $50,000 per unit.
Situations such as these indicate that healthcare is becoming more of a business scheme than a public service devoted to saving lives. From 2009 to 2016 Mylan raised the prices of its life-saving EpiPen from $100 to $600. Mylan was later found to have bribed pharmacies to exclude competitors and benefited them with the exorbitant price hikes they imposed with their ill-acquired monopoly.
It’s high costs of care that are making 1 in 3 Americans think twice before seeking treatment. Over half of Millennials and Gen X delayed or avoided care due to cost, leading to 125,000 avoidable deaths.
Others simply can’t afford health insurance, with more than 8 in 10 coming from low-income families. Minorities make up 43% of the population but account for over 50% of the uninsured, with 22% Native American, 19% Hispanic, and 11% African American. Since 2016 the number of uninsured has grown by 1.2 million.
That’s the consequence of mixing business with medicine, the healthcare system was already struggling to offer care to all patients. But now with the appearance of COVID-19, can they overcome a lack of insurance and supplies? Can the American healthcare system find a way forward after this pandemic?
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