Almost Half Of Americans Fear That They Can’t Afford COVID-19 Treatment - Are They Wrong?
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen more than 2 million Americans infected - and the financial implications of catching the virus can be equally scary.
A recent YouGov poll found that nearly half of all Americans with health insurance aren’t confident in their ability to pay for coronavirus diagnosis and treatment.
- The survey assessed the financial readiness of 2500 US citizens aged 18 and over.
- Not only did roughly half the participants express concern about their ability to pay for treatment, but 23% of those believed they would need some form of debt like online medical loans for bad credit to cover their medical expenses.
In this article we’ll take a look at the results of this survey and what they could mean for your own medical finances.
Younger vs Older Americans
While Americans were broadly concerned about the effect of the coronavirus on their finances across the board. people aged 18 to 34 were especially anxious about their ability to pay for this type of treatment.
35% of people in this age category were considering some form of medical loan or credit card as a means of paying for a COVID-19 diagnosis if the need arose.
- Younger Americans are in a doubly difficult position since they are less likely to be working in a traditional full time occupation - and that means they don’t benefit from health insurance provided by an employer.
- This demographic group is also younger, has less money in savings, and fewer assets to borrow against or sell when compared to Americans aged 35 and above.
COVID-19 Care Costs - A Breakdown
The CDC’s recent announcement that they won’t charge for COVID-19 tests is a great source of relief for many financially-strapped patients – but the hospitalization costs involved with a coronavirus diagnosis can amount to thousands of dollars.
- A COVID-19 test will usually only be done once other illnesses like influenza and bacterial pneumonia have been ruled out. Tests for these common conditions are definitely not free and you’ll need to cover them in cash if you are uninsured. Patients with healthcare insurance may still be liable for copayments which could exceed $1000.
- A typical hospital stay for a coronavirus diagnosis could cost you anything between $3000 and $4000 – and those are in-network rates. You should budget for at least $1000 in copayments to satisfy most health insurance plans.
- If the number of cases in your city or town is especially large, you may find yourself in a situation where your in-network hospital is full and you’re forced to be tested at an institution that isn’t contracted with your health insurance.
- In this worst case scenario you may be liable for medical costs of $4000 to $5000 - or even $10,000 if you don’t have insurance.
In addition to diagnosis costs, the cost of treatment for COVID-19 should also be considered.
An uncomplicated case of coronavirus (which doesn’t require ICU treatment or a lengthy hospital stay) could still cost you anything between $500 and $1500 in doctor’s fees and medication - and this amount could double or even triple if you don’t have insurance.
How Health Insurers Are Stepping Up And what It Could Mean For You
If you’re worried about possibly contracting COVID-19 and having to pay for the substantial medical costs that come with a diagnosis and treatment, here’s some good news: several health insurers are becoming more flexible in this time of crisis.
A number of insurers are waiving costs and copayments for patients who require coronavirus tests - but the exact changes they are implementing aren’t standard across the industry.
- Cigna announced that it will be waiving costs for its members should they require COVID-19 tests.
- CVS Health has followed suit and will eliminate copayments for coronavirus tests.
- United Healthcare has announced a waiver on cost sharing for its commercial insurance customers as well as its Medicare and Medicaid members.
- Humana will also waive costs for most members.
- Blue Shield is starting to implement copayment waivers - but not in all states. At the time of writing, customers in California and North Carolina (Blue Cross Shield) no longer have to make copayments for COVID-19 tests.
It’s important to note that the waivers announced by major health insurers don’t necessarily apply to self-insured private customers or employees of companies that operate a self-insured medical plan.
It’s always a good idea to check with your HR department or contact your health insurance provider directly to confirm exactly what you’re covered for and how much you may need to pay if the need arises.
The coronavirus pandemic has swept across the US - and the cost of diagnosing and treating this condition shouldn’t be underestimated.
With half of American adults surveyed harboring the belief that they may not be able to afford the medical costs involved, it’s essential to secure the funds you’ll need in the event that you contract the virus.
Many healthcare providers have offered to waive copayments for COVID-19 related testing. If you need to finance your copayments or aren’t insured, you may want to consider a medical loan.