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Letter: Covid-19 pandemic demands better health care coverage

Letter: Covid-19 pandemic demands better health care coverage

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While the pandemic rages, our President touts a questionable mortality rate under 2% as some perverse indicator, 136,000 deaths later, that “things are under control”.

When I was still performing surgery, I was most concerned with the complication rate of a procedure. The mortality rate (the ultimate complication, perhaps) is a subset of that larger number. For me, the complication rate, fully and meaningfully rendered, includes not just the technical or physiologic aspects of the care (wound infection, pneumonia, etc.), but the economic (resource utilization, length of stay, hospitalization cost) and social aspects as well (family/work disruption, job/insurance loss, medical debt, subsequent disability).

It is dispiriting beyond conscience to think that more than 30 million of our fellow citizens have lost their jobs and health insurance in the midst of this catastrophe, and to know that we haven't yet seen the full repercussions of the pandemic as disease(s) or socioeconomic tsunami. Statistical analyses, while they scratch our intellectual itches or provide slings and arrows for our partisan spear-throwing, are lousy substitutes for the singular tragedies playing out in real life, most often among those least able to tolerate the stresses, disruptions and sacrifices involved.

Ironically, while at greatest risk for dying from Covid-19, those of us who are at least risk of losing healthcare coverage are we with Medicare. If that isn't an argument for universal coverage and Medicare for All, I'm all ears for the promised solution not yet forthcoming from the White House.

Robert Milch, MD


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