The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is reshaping every aspect of our nation as we know it. One of the most fundamental issues facing Americans in this crisis is the capacity of the health care system.
The U.S. healthcare system is not perfect, and the coronavirus has exposed additional flaws in the system. For more than a decade, policymakers have floated various ideas for health care reform from Medicare for All, to a public option, to a public-private hybrid plan. The coronavirus crisis provides another opportunity to examine health care reforms to strengthen the system, and there are lessons to be learned from around the globe.
In addition, after COVID-19, we can expect attention to shift to public health in all levels of government. There will be an increase in funding for health research, greater investments in virology and vaccinology and more domestic production of medical supplies. These changes might protect and prepare the world from the next inevitable disease.
As a lobbyist for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), I advocate in support of the employer-sponsored system. Employer-based health care provides health benefits to more than 181 million Americans and their families. It is the foundation of health insurance in the U.S. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that the employer-based system is perfect. Though imperfect, lawmakers are leaning on the employer-based system in response to the crisis. This is evident in the recently passed coronavirus stimulus package.
Employer-sponsored plans have long included benefits such as preventative care, telehealth, wellness and mental health support which are valuable tools and resources for employees throughout the year, but especially important when responding to a health crisis. These benefits will be equally important as the nation recovers. That's why SHRM will continue to advocate that any approach to health care reform in the U.S. must preserve the option for employers to provide health care plans while lowering costs for employers and employees.
Though SHRM supports strengthening the employer-based system, ultimately it is important that everyone has access to affordable healthcare coverage to meet their specific needs. The coronavirus has taught us as a nation that health care is not just a commodity- it is a necessity. This will shape the future of U.S. health care for decades to come.
Looking for more information and resources? Visit SHRM’s COVID-19 Government Response and Resources page, where you can also find:
- SHRM’s Analysis of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (COV3 Package)
- SHRM's In-Depth Analysis of the emergency Families First Response to Coronavirus Act (COV2 Package)
- FAQs: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201)