COVID-19 healthcare issues reflect pre-existing inequalities

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, federal data shows more than a third of Americans live in areas where hospitals are running critically short on intensive care beds. The data has caused some panic about the possibility of health care rationing over the coming months.

Isabel Perera, assistant professor of government and expert in health, labor and social policy, says concerns of rationing healthcare related to the pandemic are relevant, but pre-existing inequalities in healthcare have existed long before the COVID-19 virus.

"The concerns about the possibility of rationing care in a winter wave of COVID-19 are not wrong, but neither are they new. The American health system already rations care.

“Who has access to health insurance, what benefits these plans include, and which providers they pay — all of these are mechanisms to allocate finite health care resources. The challenges posed by the pandemic are largely a reflection of pre-existing inequalities and rationing decisions."

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