UNSPLASH PHOTO COURTESY OF Adhy Savala
With the reality of a global health crisis threatening thousands of lives a day, it’s no surprise that many hospitals have adapted their policies and procedures in order to keep up with the surging outbreaks.
According to CDC statistics, 45 million COVID-19 cases have been reported within the past 30 days. As hospitals work quickly to change policies and accommodate increased cases, many patients find themselves struggling to pay their hospital bill.
For many Americans, healthcare costs have become more of an issue with people finding themselves out of work, leaving them unable to pay for treatment. Hospitalization of a person with private insurance cost a total of $42,200 on average, and each hospitalization of a person with COVID-19 who had Medicare Advantage coverage averaged about $21,400, according to a University of Michigan study.
Compared to a typical hospital visit cost of $250 for basic treatment services, those severely affected by COVID-19 find themselves paying upwards of $34,000, according to a FAIR Health study. As COVID-19 cases worsened throughout the year, many patients were readmitted due to lingering symptoms, which added onto their initial hospital fees.
For the unvaccinated, a hospital stay can add thousands to their medical bill, with CDC data estimating a total of 287,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past three months. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults cost over $5 billion in June through August 2021.
Increased healthcare prices were also caused by new hospital policy changes aimed to protect staff and patients from infection. The initial outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020 posed many issues to hospitals, such as a lack of proper treatment, pressuring hospitals to invest in experimental methods in an attempt to cure the patient and curtail the spread of the virus, although it proved ineffective at the time.
Despite assistance from health insurance companies — waiving co-insurances and some out-of-pocket costs — many people still face financial difficulties as a result of high medical expenses.
“I think [the costs] are too high for the average person,” said junior Max Karp of Bradley Beach. “It’s a good step that the COVID-19 vaccine is free, but with a healthcare system designed around insurance being the middleman, those companies gain where people lose.”