In many nations, healthcare is seen as a human right and, as a result, is made available to all citizens in an accessible way. In America, however, this is far from the case and healthcare is seen as a commodity or luxury to be purchased. While there are arguments made that this business-like model results in American medical institutions developing the best treatments and services, it’s hard to see the benefit of having the best medical care in one’s area but not being able to access it due to cost barriers.
Few things highlight the need for greater access to healthcare better than recessions. If individuals are struggling to pay for shelter and food, paying a substantial portion of their income for healthcare services shouldn’t be a burden they have to carry as well.
Understanding the many ways that increasing access to healthcare can help individuals during a recession can provide one with a deeper perspective about healthcare in America and its need to evolve into a more humane and accessible system.
How Recessions Can Negatively Impact People’s Health
Recessions have been shown to negatively impact people’s health in various ways, though it can sometimes be hard to measure this complicated metric. In short, recessions can cause people more stress and, as a result, can exacerbate other health ailments or compromise immune systems to make individuals more prone to developing health problems.
Recession-related phenomena that can significantly increase the stress levels of the public are job losses and money-related concerns. As these instances become more prevalent during recessions, there will be a greater and greater need for healthcare resources.
In addition to being at greater risk of developing certain ailments due to stress, adults — particularly older adults — are more likely to forego preventative screenings and treatments for a wide variety of diseases and other impairments. This means that a lack of accessible healthcare resources during a recession may cause upticks in the number of adults developing diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Unfortunately, foregoing doctor visits is a dishearteningly common way that individuals attempt to cut back on spending during recessions. What this very clearly highlights is the need for governments, healthcare organizations, and other institutions to widen access to healthcare to ensure that recessions-related financial concerns — or any financial concerns for that matter — aren’t stopping people from getting the treatment and care that they need.
How Increased Access to Healthcare Can Benefit Society
During recessions, many people may be far more likely to put off getting treatments and getting health insurance than they otherwise would be. This stems from the fact that, in America, healthcare services are oftentimes one of the most expensive bills that people can have.
Ensuring that healthcare is more accessible during recessions is vital to keeping the public at large healthy. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has left a wake of individuals dealing with a number of complicated issues that make it more difficult for them to receive the proper amount of health services.
One issue, in particular, is that of increased numbers of youth homelessness in America. Given the fact that schools were forced to conduct school remotely during the pandemic, many institutions lost track of which students were homeless in the midst of the drastic changes. Upon reopening in-person school sessions, many institutions were surprised to find that the number of homeless students had increased.
The confluence of increased instances of homelessness and a recession indicates that many people are in need of significant help. In addition to what the government considers basic resources, such as food and shelter, greater access to healthcare should be a top priority as well.
Another facet of society that is in dire need of healthcare resources is immigrants and refugees. Regardless of one’s stance on immigration and the granting of refugee status, it seems reasonable to increase access to healthcare to lessen the chances of these individuals becoming ill and dying.
Unfortunately, it currently isn’t very easy for many of these individuals to receive the healthcare resources that they need.
Thankfully, there is hope. The health of all individuals in America can be beneficially impacted by changes in accessibility when it comes to healthcare. The more barriers that are removed, such as exorbitant prices, the more people will be able to receive the healthcare services and care that they require to stay healthy.
Healthcare Should Be Seen as a Right, Not a Business
While a recession is bad for nations and their citizens, the silver lining is that it may be the wake-up call that America so drastically needs. Rather than treating healthcare like a business that allows private companies to make large profits, treating healthcare as a fundamental human right can greatly improve the lives of many citizens.
Though a radical shift in healthcare accessibility may not happen in the near future, more and more initiatives are beginning to work toward increasing access to healthcare. Hopefully, as efforts like this continue, an increasing number of minds will change and healthcare will eventually become easily accessible to all individuals.