Importantly, COVID-19 vaccination rates make a strong case for Medicare for All.
The highest percentage of vaccinated Americans is among people aged 65 to 74. Our World in Data estimates 76.19% of Americans 65 to 74 are fully-vaccinated and 85.37% of the people in that group are partially-vaccinated.
In contrast, 43.06% of Americans between 25 and 39 and 38.34% of Americans between 18 and 24 are fully-vaccinated, Our World in Data estimates. However, around 51.67% of those aged 40 59 and 61.78% of persons aged 50 to 64 are fully-vaccinated.
The standard eligibility age for Medicare in the United States is 65. I think Medicare explains the high vaccination rates for those over 65. Notably, 73.62% of people over 75 are fully-vaccinated, Our World In Data estimates. Additionally, 82.64% of people over 75 are partially-vaccinated.
Fear of Healthcare
Older people receive vaccinations because they know Medicare will pay for the vaccines. I think some younger people avoid vaccines because they are afraid they will have to pay a fortune for the vaccines. In America, routine medical services can now cost thousands of dollars even for the insured.
The COVID-19 vaccines are free to all Americans. Unfortunately, the government has done a poor job of communicating that information to ordinary people.
Moreover, many younger Americans are not in the habit of seeking medical care because they have no means of paying for it. Even many people with health insurance fear going near a clinic, because they could get hit with high copays or bills.
Data shows the fear of healthcare costs is rational. A 2009 Harvard study blames medical bills for 62.1% of personal bankruptcies in the United States, The Balance reports. Conversely, 2011 and 2013 studies estimate medical costs cause 26% of personal bankruptcies.
Employer Health Insurance Fails
Frighteningly, data shows employer health insurance does not cover healthcare costs for ordinary Americans.
For instance, a 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation/LA Times survey found 27% of people with employer health insurance have trouble paying medical bills.* In fact, 65% of people with employer health insurance put off purchases to cover medical bills.*
Plus, 50% of people with employer health insurance admit using credit cards to pay medical bills. The study claims 25% of people with employer health insurance admit to borrowing money from friends or family to cover medical bills.*
Ordinary Americans cannot rely upon employer health insurance
Frighteningly 12% of people with employer health insurance sought help from a charity or non profit to cover medical costs. Another 13% admit to taking out loans to pay medical bills. Around 13% admit they cut spending on food to pay medical bills.*
Predictably, 33% of respondents admitted they postponed needed healthcare. Plus 24% of people with employer sponsored health insurance admit they did not get a doctor-recommended test or treatment because they could not afford it. Another 18% of people on employer health insurance admit they did not fill prescriptions, cut pills in half, or skipped doses because of cost.*
Disturbingly, the study is of Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance. I think the Kaiser/Los Angeles Times survey shows ordinary Americans cannot rely upon employer sponsored health insurance.
Consequently, many Americans fear vaccination will lead to another bill appearing in their mail boxes. Hence, many people with “health insurance” avoid vaccination and take the risk of serious illness, disability and death from COVID-19.
Is Medicare for All the Answer?
Hence, one potential solution to public health crises such as COVID-19 is Medicare for All or single-payer health insurance. However, data shows some countries with single-payer health insurance lag on vaccination.
Only 53% of the population of the United Kingdom, home of the National Health Service, is fully-vaccinated, Our World In Data estimates. However, 15% of the UK’s population is partially-vaccinated. Thus, 68% of Brits have been vaccinated.
In contrast, just 29% of the population of Australia is vaccinated, Our World in Data estimates. Only 11% of Australia’s population is fully-vaccinated and just 18% is partially-vaccinated. Australia has a single-payer health insurance system even former US President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida) admires.
I think the Australian data proves single-payer health insurance is useless without effective pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to produce vaccines and medicines.
The United States has the best pharmaceutical industry in the world but no system that industry’s products to many of the nation’s citizens. Australia has an excellent single-payer heath-insurance system but no means of producing sufficient amounts of vaccine to protect its population.
Thus the answer is American-style biotechnology and Australian style single-payer health insurance. I have to wonder if the British have that lucky mix of private enterprise and public infrastructure. The Mother Country still has a lot to teach both its former colonies.
The Mainstream Media get the Vaccine story Wrong
The most disgusting aspect of the vaccine story is the how America’s mainstream media covers it.
Instead of asking why people are not getting vaccinated. The media looks for villains to blame. Those villains include conservatives, Republicans, evangelicals, vaccine deniers, social media, and Trump among others.
Even President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) claims Facebook (FB) kills people with misinformation about vaccination. Cynics, such as me, think Biden is using Facebook as a scapegoat for the failure of his administration’s vaccination program. Notably, Biden walked back some of his Facebook comments after media criticism.
Yes, some lies and distortions spread by the deniers are disgusting. The politicization of vaccines by opportunistic charlatans is horrendous. However, I think deniers are not the problem.
Vaccine Deniers are not the Problem
In March 2021, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated only 20% of Americans were vaccine deniers. In addition, only 13% of Americans said they would definitely not get vaccinated. Around 7% of Americans said they only get vaccinated, if somebody required them to do so.
Kaiser estimates that 79% of Americans wanted to get the vaccine at some point, and 86% of Americans were willing to get vaccinated. Thus, I conclude vaccine denial is not a serious problem.
The real barriers to vaccination are elsewhere but the media refuses to cover them. Instead, the so-called journalists blame ordinary Americans for problems the structure of our healthcare system creates. I think the media takes this direction because of the enormous amounts of money health insurance, pharmaceutical, and healthcare companies spend on advertising.
If America wants to survive the pandemic, we need to consider Medicare for All. Unfortunately, politicians do not want to hear that suggestion.