According to the data of a new report released, all the Americans who had to be hospitalized because of contracting Coronavirus infection could now potentially face up to thousands of dollars on out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Research conducted at the University of Michigan in Detroit reported that all through 2020 since the beginning of the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, most of the health insurance firms had waived off deductibles, co-pays as well as any other cost-sharing for all the patients who were infected with Coronavirus and had to be hospitalized.
Corona Virus Medical Bills May Touch An Average Of Almost 3,800 Dollars
However, many of those health insurance companies have stopped that practice since the beginning of the current year.
According to Dr. Kao-Ping Chua, who is the lead author of the research conducted, along with being a health policy researcher as well as a pediatrician by profession at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor, Detroit, many of these health insurance firms are of the opinion that now since the COVID 19 vaccine is widely available for the majority of the country’s population, it would be justified to charge patients infected with Coronavirus for their hospitalization costs.
However, in his University news release, Dr. Kao-Ping Chua further added that a certain section of the nation’s population, like young children, are still not eligible for COVID 19 vaccination, while some fully vaccinated individuals could have experienced a severe bout of breakthrough infection from the new variants of Coronavirus, because of which they may need to be hospitalized. He said that, as per their study reports, these patients may have to bear substantial medical bills during their hospitalization.
Between the months of March 2020 to September 2020, the researchers had been analyzing the data of more than four thousand Corona virus-related hospitalizations of individuals who had private health insurance as well as Medicare Advantage insurance. It was concluded that a majority of these patients did not have to pay for their hospital expenses, which means that their health insurance plans waived off the cost-sharing for medical bills sent by their hospitals.
However, for the remaining few patients who had to bear the brunt of their hospital bills, their out-of-pocket expenses were in thousands of dollars, which indicates that a waiver was not applied.
The researchers concluded that, based on the previous year’s information, all the hospitalized Coronavirus patients without waivers could potentially face up to 3,800 dollars, for the ones with private health insurance and for the ones with Medicare Advantage plans, the expenses could touch 1,500 dollars.
According to the study authors, these findings could be an indication for people who have not yet been vaccinated or those with other underlying health conditions that makes them more susceptible to severe breakthrough COVID 19 infections. The research results were published online on 18th October 2021 in JAMA Network Open.
The research also concluded that not all COVID 19 related cost-sharing waivers cover all the hospitalization-related expenses. For instance, many patients had received bills from hospitals for doctor’s charges and ambulance services.
71% of the patients with private insurance had received a bill for hospitalization services at an average cost of 788 dollars and about half of the patients with Medicare Advantage received a hospital bill at an average cost of 277 dollars.
Dr. Chua expressed his concern that owing to the risk of high costs, some patients with severe COVID 19 infection may delay getting admitted to a hospital, thus increasing the risk of death.
He was of the opinion that the federal government must push the insurers to waiver COVID 19 hospitalization costs through the pandemic, just as they do with Coronavirus vaccination and testing, but feared that it was unlikely to happen, given the general anger against the unvaccinated.
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