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This country was in a state of emergency even before Covid. Yet ever since the COVID pandemic hit, it has become even more challenging for American citizens to make ends meet and to put food on their tables.
THE U.S. HEALTHCARE CRISIS
Every other modern state has a universal health care system. But not the United States. Universal healthcare is the only way to ensure that everyone will have access to health care. Millions of Americans have no access at all, or are underinsured. The consequences of this are dire, as we will outline below.
In 2022, Yale researchers found that more than 335,000 American deaths during the pandemic would have been prevented if there was universal health insurance in the U.S. In addition, the country would have saved $105 billion in COVID-19 hospitalization expenses alone.
But instead of making healthcare a priority after the pandemic, millions are now going to lose it.
Millions will lose their Medicaid now that the government has ended the federal Public Health Emergency. The federal Public Health Emergency was ended in the Spring of 2023. What this means is up to 18 million Americans (including millions of children) will be tossed off Medicaid, and millions are in the process of losing their Medicaid right now.
Congress is also considering several pieces of legislation that would impose billions of dollars in additional Medicare payment cuts for services provided by hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs). If enacted, these misguided so-called “site-neutral” policies would reduce patient access to vital health care services, particularly in rural and other medically under served communities. This is on top of the fact that U.S. hospitals are already getting underpaid by $100 billion.
THE HIGH U.S. DEATH TOLL
America had a record high Covid death rate (over a million), and the fact that the U.S. has the worst life expectancy rate compared to other modern states. Federal health officials confirmed life expectancy in America has dropped for a nearly unprecedented second year in a row – down to 76 years. While countries all over the world saw life expectancy rebound during the second year of the pandemic after the arrival of vaccines, the U.S. did not. Across the lifespan, and across every demographic group, Americans die at younger ages than their counterparts in other wealthy nations. This represents a drastic change from the 1980s when the U.S. had a life expectancy similar to other wealthy nations.
Maternal mortality in the U.S. reached a high in 2021. Also, a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association found rising mortality rates among U.S. children and adolescents.
THE AMERICAN FOOD CRISIS
The Covid emergency has exacerbated the food crisis in this country.
From June 1 to June 13, 2022, almost 24 million households—including 11.6 million households with children under the age of 18—reported that they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat during the week. More than 7 million households were food insecure despite receiving federal food and nutrition benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and almost 4 million of these households included children. Notably, low-income households of color, often led by single mothers, tend to have higher rates of hunger and food insecurity. (The Center for American Progress, 8-11-22).
According to the USDA, 10.2 percent (13.5 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some time during 2021. This number was about the same in 2020.
And now these statistics are going to get worse. As of March 1st, 2023, the food stamp benefits added during Covid were taken away from 32 states. Recipient households had their monthly grocery allocations reduced by at least $95. (NBC News)
On top of that, inflation is making basic household goods harder and harder for working class families to afford. By the end of 2022, food prices were 10% higher than they were at the end of 2021 (USDA).
FINANCIAL CRISIS IN THE U.S.
Currently, 61% of Americans say they are living paycheck to paycheck (CNBC, 7-31-23).
According to an NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll, 38 percent of U.S. households reported facing serious financial problems in 2021. These financial problems occurred despite 67 percent of U.S. households receiving financial assistance from the government. In addition to this, 19 percent of U.S. households reported losing their entire savings during the pandemic, leaving them with nothing to fall back on.
With these financial issues, there have been serious health consequences.
"In healthcare, 18 percent of households report anyone in their household has been unable to get medical care for a serious problem in the past few months when they needed it, with 76 percent of those unable to get care reporting negative health consequences as a result." (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
CHILDREN ARE FALLING BEHIND IN SCHOOL
Not only are people experiencing health complications, but children are also falling behind in school. 69 Percent of households with children in grades K-12 fell behind in learning during the pandemic, with 70 percent of these households feeling it will be very difficult for their children to catch up from education losses.
A SURGE IN ALCOHOL RELATED DEATHS
Alcohol related deaths also surged due to the pandemic. The U.S. consumption of alcohol, which had already been increasing for years, accelerated during the pandemic as Americans grappled with stress and isolation. The number of deaths caused by alcohol skyrocketed nationwide, rising more than 45 percent. In 2021, alcohol was the primary cause of death for more than 54,000 Americans, causing nearly 17,000 more deaths than just a few years before, in 2018. (The Washington Post, 7-13-2023)
The American Health Crisis
Life expectancy continues to decline in the U.S. as it rebounds in other countries (NPR, 3-25-23)
How does U.S. life expectancy compare to other countries? (Health System Tracker, 12-6-22)
The US Spends Almost as Much on Healthcare as the Rest of the World Combined and Has One of the Worst Outcomes (Scheer Post, 11-25-22) Read the Book Here on Amazon Stephen Bezruchka's Website
Opinion | United States of Death? Study Shows Worrying Mortality Rates of Broken Health System (Common Dreams, 8-15-22)
Deaths Following the Pandemic
Alcohol consumption surged during the pandemic — and deaths followed (The Washington Post, 7-13-23)
Financial and Food Crisis
61% of Americans say they are living paycheck to paycheck even as inflation cools (CNBC, 7-31-23)
Billionaires 'Had a Terrific Pandemic' While Inequality Killed Millions: Oxford (Common Dreams, 1-17-22)
Datassential: More than 10% of U.S. restaurants have closed permanently (Nation's Restaurant News, 3-29-21)
22 Percent of Gyms Have Closed, $29.2 Billion Revenue Lost Since COVID-19 Hit (Club Industry, 8-10-21)
Committee Report Outlines COVID’s Devastating Impact on Black-Owned Small Businesses (House Committee on Small Business)
Covid-19 Has Had A Disproportionate Financial Impact On Black Small Businesses (Forbes, 6-3-21)
38 Percent of U.S. Households Reported Facing Serious Financial Problems Despite Two-Thirds Receiving Government Assistance (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 10-12-21)
Tracking the COVID-19 Economy’s Effects on Food, Housing, and Employment Hardships (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 10-13-21)
RELATED EARTH FUTURE FUTURE ACTION ARTICLES
Key Social Programs Ending for Americans in Autumn 2023
America's State of Emergency - An Agenda For Action
Dead or Alive in Modern America - The Right to Exist
Life and Death in America (Audio)
Time for Action on the Student Debt Crisis