The Coronavirus Pandemic’s Wider Health-Care Crisis

Even before the pandemic, American health care was in trouble. Although it is the most expensive system in the world, with a cost roughly equivalent to Germany’s G.D.P., it has delivered variable quality, produced mediocre outcomes, and left millions of people behind. Now the coronavirus has shaken its unsteady foundation, siphoning attention and resources away from patients who need other types of care. We tend to follow the virus’s toll narrowly—cases, hospitalizations, deaths—but the damage to public health is also vast, and the longer the pandemic persists, the larger it will grow. Children go unvaccinated; blood pressure is left uncontrolled; cancer survivors miss their checkups. The extent of the collateral damage won’t be known for years, if ever. But it’s clear that mitigating the harm starts by getting the virus under control.