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Opinion: Trump’s COVID-19 treatment underscores flaws in American healthcare

Trump’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic draws attention to overlooked faults in the United States healthcare system. Photo by Catherine Vu

United States President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19, received treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and was discharged in the span of four days. It would take the average American 14 days of self-quarantine and usually are asked to stay at home due to overwhelmed capacity in hospitals.

The COVID-19 pandemic and Trump’s rapid treatment have highlighted how flawed the United States healthcare system is, which leaves millions without healthcare coverage. Health insurance is more needed than ever in helping Americans meet health needs that resulted from contracting COVID-19 and the stress of the pandemic.

In 2019 alone, one million lost their healthcare coverage. That number increased to 12 million because Americans lost their employer-based health care benefits due to pandemic-related job losses.

Lack of healthcare coverage means that health providers can deny medical treatment to those that need it by adjusting their qualifications and the number of providers in their network, resulting in fewer or limited options for healthcare benefits.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 30.1 million people are completely uninsured in the United States.

Financial difficulties are another burdening reminder that healthcare is not accessible for all, especially for those who are low-income. The Journal of General Internal Medicine approximates 137.1 million adults faced some form of medical financial hardship in 2018.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is a healthcare reform law signed in 2010 that expands healthcare coverage and reduces health costs for Americans who are no more than 400% below the federal poverty line.

Repealing and replacing Obamacare with a vague healthcare plan is a battle Trump has waged during his presidency. While this act is flawed and still leaves millions of others who do not meet the requirements uninsured, getting rid of it means an additional 20 million Americans may lose coverage.

Healthcare is a human right, but it is not a right given to everyone, and many Americans face unnecessary challenges to be insured and have access to medical treatment.

As a president, Trump can and did access the highest quality of medical care and treatment, increasing his chances of recovery. Any American who has money and/or power can also be treated for any sickness with urgency and care.

Meanwhile, the millions of Americans who have contracted COVID-19 must take sick leave from work (if they still have their jobs) to self isolate for 14 days. Millions of Americans who have contracted COVID-19 will never be able to afford, let alone have the option to access, the kind of treatment Trump received, which included cocktails of drugs and antibodies. Millions of Americans who have contracted COVID-19 and manage to get admitted to a hospital will not be lucky enough to leave in tip-top shape after three days.

Trump took to Twitter after his recovery to downplay COVID-19 and advise people to not be afraid of the disease. He has immeasurable privilege, as shown in his COVID-19 treatment, while the majority of Americans do not and will suffer much more than he did if they contract COVID-19, especially if they are uninsured.

The flaws of the United States healthcare system, particularly in healthcare coverage, are costly and affect both the finances and livelihood of everyone. It appears as though our politicians, who enjoy the gold standard of medical care, do not have their priorities in the right place and make healthcare more accessible to all, even amid a pandemic.

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