What You Should Know

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted American health care in many ways: First, it sent hospitals and providers scrambling in a race against time to prepare for potential surges in demand for care. Secondly, it reduced demand for non-COVID services and cut off providers’ ability to offer the elective procedures that serve as an important revenue source. In response, like other businesses, hospitals and doctors’ offices furloughed and laid off workers and cut pay.

The COVID pandemic also brought the strengths and weaknesses in American health care into stark relief. This should serve to point policymakers in the right direction for three major reforms, even during this difficult time:

Millions of Americans lost jobs as the economy was shut down. This should raise serious concern about our employment-centric model for health insurance, an accident of history. It’s time to finally unlink employment and health insurance in favor of portable Health Savings Accounts.

Furthermore, policymakers should restore public trust in healthcare institutions by making pricing information transparent. Price transparency isn’t an end in itself, but the means to the ends of patient control, healthy market competition, and lower healthcare spending for all.

And finally, policymakers should look to remove unnecessary government red tape from health care, so that hospitals and providers have maximum flexibility to respond to new events and innovate to better address people’s health needs.