Medical Bills • 3 minute read
The Costs Of COVID
By Mason Frenzel
Published by Ruby
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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed lives across the globe. While COVID-19’s spread forced healthy individuals to face new levels of vulnerability, the novel virus particularly threatened the health of those coping with longterm illnesses, like asthma. And when survival is your primary focus, it is easy to forget that critical medical treatment comes with a monetary cost.
In this article, we will outline the financial outcomes of COVID-19 treatment so that you are equipped to get the treatment you need without damaging your financial situation.
Navigating the labyrinth.
Treatments for COVID-19 are as diverse as the virus’ symptoms. Some COVID patients are able to recover from the comfort of their own home, so long as they keep a safe distance from friends and family. Others with severe cases require hospitalization and even ventilation as a breathing aid. And this is when the situation gets complicated: Each insurance company covers COVID-19 treatment differently, and due to the global nature of the disease, the United States government has even intervened to wave some COVID-related costs, like COVID tests. Even so, certain loopholes keep patients from receiving fee waivers.
In a KHN article, graduate student Davis Abel found herself in this situation. A sufferer of lupus, Abel made sure to monitor her health. When she came down with a high fever, she knew she needed to take action and find out if she had contracted the virus. Unfortunately, learning if she had the virus was more difficult than she hoped. Since Abel became sick in early March, the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S., getting a COVID test was challenging. According to her doctor, other illnesses needed to be ruled out before Abel qualified for a COVID-19 test. After receiving several tests for other respiratory diseases, Abel learned that she had the flu.
Unfortunately, her troubles didn’t end there. Even though Abel’s medical tests were administered in order to rule out COVID-19, they were not covered by the protections Congress put into place for patients seeking COVID tests. While Abel paid over $500 for the initial tests as part of her co-pay, an actual COVID-19 test would have been free.
Due to the shortage of COVID-19 tests, patients like Abel fall through the cracks and face hefty medical bills as a result. Even worse, these bills often come as a surprise to patients like Abel.
Unfortunately, with the situation continually evolving and the various types of insurance and aid, it is difficult to estimate how much you will spend on COVID treatment without being knowledgeable on your personal situation. Although, the following is a brief summary on what subscribers to various insurance providers can expect:
- Private insurance plans include most employer-sponsored plans, as well as coverage from third-party providers, according to CNBC.
- If you are privately insured, a good course of action is to research how your plan handles COVID-19 treatment.
- Many providers are waiving deductible and co-payment minimums for COVID treatment, but if your plan is employer-sponsored, the decision falls to your employer. Knowing what your plan covers sooner rather than later will help you to plan accordingly.
- The amount you pay for treatment also depends heavily on your individual plan if you have Medicare.
- Many Medicare beneficiaries subscribe to additional coverage, like an Advantage Plan, which helps with the costs of hospital stays and prescription drugs.
- Numerous supplemental insurance providers have vowed to cover COVID-related treatment costs.
- Those with basic Medicare coverage are still responsible for meeting a deductible, in spite of current medical crisis. CNBC cites that if these individuals require hospitalization, they will have to pay a $1,408 deductible before being eligible for coverage.
- The U.S. government is using funding to reimburse hospitals who treat uninsured COVID-19 patients.
- Although, it remains to be determined if this includes all of the care a patient receives during their stay, such as treatment from a physician who is not reimbursed.
The following are a few figures that real people suffering from COVID-19 have paid for treatment during the pandemic:
- As a result of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Americans have access to tests, free of charge, across the country. You can get tested at a health center or at select pharmacies, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Out-of-network or Uninsured: $73,300
- In-network: $38,220 total
- FairHealth estimates that the average price of a hospital stay for an in-network COVID-19 patient is $38,220, which is then split between the patient and the insurance provider. The amount the patient is responsible for depends on their individual insurance plan.
Case by Case
Patient costs for COVID-19 vary widely depending on your insurance plan or lack thereof. While 73-year-old Sherry Seidman’s treatment was fully covered by Medicare, Donna Talla, who has a private insurance plan, is $150,000 in debt after contracting COVID-19 and may have to sell her home.
We don’t know what the future holds but the best thing you can do now is prepare for the unknown. By becoming well-versed on your insurance plan, you can ensure that you receive treatment at an in-network hospital, and know what to expect in terms of your deductible or co-pay.
Managing medical bills, especially when unexpected, can be daunting. When combined with other obstacles, you may not even know where to begin. That is why Ruby is here: to help you. With Ruby, you can get help on making a bill payment plan and even assistance with negotiating to lower your bills. Take a look at our website to learn more!