American healthcare is facing a socio-economic crisis. A New York Times opinion piece explained that,
“Arguably the biggest outlier is the American health care system. Prices for drugs, medical procedures and doctors’ visits are all substantially higher in the United States than in other countries.”
This is compounded by another fact, which is that “Americans are far from the world’s healthiest people.” (Opinion, NYT, 7/2/2020) That so many people died in the U.S. because of COVID, over 600,000 lives lost, is an unfortunate testament to this problem.
While the United States may have a number of wonderful hospitals and medical care, healthcare is not equally available to everyone. Consequentially, economically and socially disadvantaged residents who do not receive the same quality of care are at greater risk for being unhealthy. Quality of care includes a lifetime of regular doctors’ visits and follow up visits as well as good specialty and hospital medical care.
Unfortunately, in this country, persons uninsured or on Medicaid do not have equal access to the better funded academic medical facilities. This disparity has an unequal effect depending on race, a socioeconomic fact.
This is particularly evident in New York City. The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School, an applied policy research institute, reports that “Two-thirds of White New York City patients are treated by hospitals that are part of the five major citywide networks (Montefiore, Mount Sinai, Northwell, NYU Langone, and New York-Presbyterian), according to the most recent publicly available data from the State of New York.
In contrast, most Black patients sought care at public hospitals or at private, non- affiliated hospitals located in low-income communities and caring for many uninsured and Medicaid insured residents.” (“Hospital Care in Black and White: How Systemic Racism Persists” 9/19/2020)
This has been our anecdotal experience at The Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm. We see clients with medical malpractice cases. The majority of our clients received second rate care from second rate medical offices and hospitals. They are not given necessary attention, follow through, and information.
It is no coincidence that our clients, who are often economically and socially disadvantaged, bring stories of receiving poor medical care followed by tragic consequences. The answer is not just to make some medical care affordable, but for everyone to have equal access to quality medical care, available no matter who you are, where you live, and no matter what healthcare plan you have.