As fears continue to mount over a potential widespread outbreak of the coronavirus here in the U.S., a special fear is mounting for those who lack health insurance. Speaking to the Daily Beast, 30-year-old restaurant manager Terryl Banta said having no health insurance makes the a potential virus outbreak extra nightmarish.
“If I actually had to go the doctor, it would absolutely drain my savings and change everything," Banta said. "I wouldn’t be able to get married this fall, wouldn’t be able to contribute to a down payment on a house, and I’d probably have to sell my car and cash out my 401k from a previous job.”
As the Daily Beast points out, the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that the number of uninsured Americans has gone up the last two years. In 2018, the number totaled around 27.9 million people.
“In the context of a public health emergency, you want everyone to be able to access the healthcare system,” doctor and director of the University of Colorado’s Center for Bioethics and Humanities, Matthew K. Wynia, told the Daily Beast. “You don’t want people with a contagious illness deciding, I’m too afraid.”
Georgetown professor and expert on public health law, Lawrence Gostin, agrees.
“Lack of health insurance could result in a person delaying seeing a doctor or being turned away,” he said. “That just fuels an epidemic.”
While there hasn't been a disease outbreak serious enough to measure the impact it would have on the uninsured, the potential scenario is pretty obvious to people like Banta.
“Most of my friends my age don’t [have health insurance] save for those who have been in more stable jobs than restaurants for a while,” she said. “Most of my friends are in the industry and are thus similarly not wealthy.”
Read the full report over at the Daily Beast.