News Release

338,000 U.S. Lives Could Have Been Saved from Covid, Study Finds

A new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, has found that between the beginning of the pandemic until mid-March 2022, universal health care could have saved more than 338,000 lives from Covid-19. The study also calculated that $105.6 billion could have been saved in health care costs associated with Covid hospitalizations. The study demonstrates that a significant share of Covid mortality in the U.S. is “due to our reliance on a system of market-driven health care.” 

JAMES G. KAHN, MD, JGKahn@ucsf.edu
    Kahn is a professor at the Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF’s Institute for Health Policy Studies.

Kahn, who is a co-author on the study, told the Institute for Public Accuracy today: “This important modeling analysis and its companion empirical study in Lancet Regional Health demonstrate the massive mortality burden imposed on the U.S. population by the lack of universal insurance––tens of thousands of added deaths in a typical year and more than 300,000 during [Covid]. Placing the profits of private insurers over the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans is obscene.”

Kahn’s comment in Health Justice Monitor notes that the pair of studies finally provide a “firm numerical estimate” of Covid-19 mortality and its relation to American health care. 

Alison Galvani, the study’s lead author, told Scientific American that “health care reform is long overdue in the U.S.Prior to the pandemic, 28 million American adults were uninsured, and 9 million more lost their insurance as a result of unemployment at the start of the pandemic. The study compared the mortality risks of Covid-19 among people with and without insurance. In their cost estimates of insuring the entire U.S. population, the authors found that “a single-payer health care system would generate savings in three ways: more efficient investment in preventative care, lowered administrative costs and increased negotiating power for pharmaceuticals, equipment and fees.”