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Expert: Coronavirus ripping 'massive band-aid' off health inequality

Julia La Roche
Correspondent

The coronavirus pandemic has magnified inequities in the health care system and outcomes for minorities, prompting one expert to rail against the “band-aid” that’s preserving a broken status-quo.

As racially-tinged protests roil the U.S. — and the COVID-19 toll continues to mount, especially in communities of color — Dr. Howard Forman, a professor of public health and policy at Yale University told Yahoo Finance that officials need to "look at [the problem] more seriously." 

Forman hit out at the "relatively small band-aid over a massive, gaping wound over health equity” that’s disproportionately affecting African-Americans.

“We are witnessing right now that bandaid being pulled back. And people are looking into it and realizing how big a problem we have," Forman, who published an op-ed in USA Today on this topic, told Yahoo Finance's “On The Move.”

According to data from the nonpartisan APM Research Lab, the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for black communities, with the mortality rate being 2.4 times as high as white Americans. According to the research, Latino and Asian American communities also saw higher fatality rates from the virus than white Americans. 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 31: People take part in a protest outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on May 31, 2020 in New York City. Protests spread across the country in various cities in the United States in response to the recent death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, while in polic custody, the latest death in a series of police related deaths of black Americans. (Photo by Pablo Monsalve / VIEWpress via Getty Images)

Forman stated that we will start "to address historic racial inequities that existed in this country for hundreds of years and that are are very obvious within both health care and health outcomes. And, COVID only magnifies it to a greater degree so we can start to look at it more seriously." 

The expert also saw the potential for a "much bigger disruption" to the employer-based health insurance market in the U.S. On top of the COVID-19 crisis, an economic crisis has erupted, with more than 40 million Americans filing for unemployment insurance claims in ten weeks.

The end result has seen many lose their employer-sponsored health insurance plans. 

"I would have said, personally, that it was politically impossible to imagine a single-payer system before this happened. I think, to the extent that there is more awareness of the holes in our very, very porous safety net, this moves us in the direction of Medicare for all,” Forman said.

“This moves us in the direction of more single-payer options to be put on the table," he added.


Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on 
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