COVID-19 Poses Gargantuan Financial Risks Both To Individuals And Medical Establishment

You already know the drill: whenever something unpredictable or unexpected happens, the system already put into place to handle response to similar events erupts into chaos. We see the same thing happening today. Individuals expected health insurance to protect them in the event of a medical emergency — but now they are losing their jobs and insurance because of the very emergency that insurance is supposed to guard against.

The medical establishment is showing similar signs of stress. Most doctors already pay for insurance designed to protect them from malpractice lawsuits — and they do this using money from their own salaries. We think of doctors as among the elite when it comes to payment, but the truth is they are just as prone to financial ruin as anyone else in the middle class. One mistake can destroy the future. Even a frivolous lawsuit can do catastrophic damage.

COVID-19 has shown it has the ability to do the same.

Many people are doing the runover of the last will and testament, realizing that estate law exists for a reason. Incapacity planning is one of the most important parts of planning ahead, but only a small percentage of Americans bother with it. These documents help healthcare providers make the right decisions at key moments when an individual might not be able to do the same — which reduces the chance of a frivolous lawsuit later. 

Everyone dies. But not everyone is ready to die.

This is part of the reason why many governments and groups supporting change in the medical establishment are warning that new systems might indeed emerge out of the ashes of the coronavirus pandemic — but those systems could provide changes that no one asked for or wanted. If enough financial damage is caused to our hospitals and those who work in those facilities, the ability of individuals to sue could be eradicated through changes to the law.

Then again, the system could move in a different direction to implement neutrality instead. What does “neutrality” mean? Such a system would transition from the one we have now — where there are “winners” and “losers” after every lawsuit — to one in which no one comes out a winner or a loser. Claims could be processed without cost to either side and awards are based completely on whether or not the appropriate standard of care was indeed provided. Judges and juries are removed from the process entirely, giving everyone a faster, more efficient process — and one during which participants are more likely to share embarrassing details.

The ideal scenario is one in which individuals have planned ahead in the event of disability or incapacity while medical facilities are allowed to provide care during a dangerous time for their workers — all without the added pressure of a potential lawsuit. Should healthcare providers be held accountable for their mistakes? Of course. But that does not mean they should be utterly destroyed.