COVID-19 impact on the security of the health system

As lessons are learned there will be changes in healthcare systems, in the kind of health care we seek, and how we are insured. Opinion.

Kenneth S. Abramowitz ,

Ken Abramowitz
Ken Abramowitz
Yoni Kempinski

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a sea change in how countries are managed internally, as well as changes in relations between countries. It is also causing significant changes in the healthcare systems everywhere.

Here are 10 notable healthcare observations and conclusions to focus on:

(1) Countries must invest more funds to ensure that all aspects of their healthcare systems are operating properly on a daily basis, as well as under periods of stress, as evident at this time.

(2) Most government-dominated healthcare systems did not perform well under stress, with the notable exception of Israel.

(3) Countries with deep scientific expertise will disproportionately benefit from the pandemic because of the massive investment that the public and private sectors are making to develop new diagnostic tests, new therapeutics, new vaccines, as well as ancillary masks and other PPE.

(4) These investments will lead to the development of new companies that will race to succeed against their larger competitors, thereby stimulating high-end job growth.

(5) The new companies will stimulate the growth of venture capital investment and new venture capital funds, and will keep investment bankers and lawyers busy, facilitating the process.

(6) Meanwhile, America’s prominent diagnostic testing companies stand out for their response. Recall that it was only in January that they first heard of COVID-19. By February, they were developing diagnostic tests in small quantities. By March, the FDA approved these products within days. By April, U.S. testing reached over 100,000 per day. By May, tests rolled out to detect those persons who had already been infected, and whose immune systems developed antibodies, that successfully defeated COVID-19 within them. By June, over 1 million people per day will be tested.

(7) Health insurers rose to the challenge by offering flexibility unknown in this industry. For the patients infected, the industry dropped co-payments and deductibles so as to eliminate barriers to care. The industry facilitated mail order pharmacy prescriptions. Most unusual, the industry accelerated over $5 billion of future payments to hospitals to help them cover their short term cash flow problems.

(8)Prolonged social distancing has already stimulated and will hasten the growth of telemedicine, as well as home delivery of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

(9) As non-virus patients return to receive medical care for various ailments, they will increasingly seek outpatient services to avoid the inpatient hospital environment.

(10) Senior citizens will increasingly choose to join private managed care insurance companies, which now attract only about 35% of this population. To compete with traditional government-run Medicare, the private companies generally offer reduced co-payments and deductibles which help seniors better cope with rising healthcare costs.

There are numerous silver linings that we should watch for. As the country reopens and we move back to “normal” or the “new normal” in the second half of 2020, we will be comforted by the “army” of companies and organizations that are already working feverishly to succeed, by anticipating our new needs. We will be personally grateful and collectively proud as they and we succeed in overcoming this enormous pandemic challenge.

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Kenneth S. Abramowitz is the founder of and General Partner and co-founder of worldwide healthcare venture capital fund.NGN Capital. He serves on the boards of Friends of Likud, ZOA, CAMERA, Americans for a Safe Israel, The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), and Bible Lands Museum.