Waking Up From Coronavirus With A $1 Million Medical Bill
A 70-year-old Seattle man, Michael Flor, entered the Swedish Medical Center on March 4th after contracting a bad case of COVID-19. He stayed there for several months and received around-the-clock care. He was even put on ventilators for nearly four weeks.
According to the doctors and medical staff, Flor nearly died several times and many believe it to be a miracle that he survived. Yet, when Michael Flor woke up, he was confronted with a 188-page medical bill totaling $1.1 million.
While Michaels's case may be an extreme example, many people have found that their coronavirus hospitalization has resulted in large medical bills. This is especially true for those who have low or no medical coverage.
Here we’ll look at exactly what the average American, with and without coverage, can expect to pay for their COVID-19 hospitalization and treatment. Additionally, we’ll learn the different ways they can lower their bills as well as how they can fully pay off their medical bills.
Average Cost Of Hospitalization Due To COVID-19
How much one will pay when hospitalized for coronavirus depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to:
- Length of stay
- Severity of case
- Pre-existing medical condition
- Whether or not the patient is put on tracheal intubation
- Whether or not the patient has health insurance and to what extent they’re covered
According to an analysis conducted by independent nonprofit group FAIR Health, those who require long term care and ventilation can expect to pay somewhere between $43,000 and $75,000. This would be the estimated cost for those that are uninsured and would also be the estimated cost for those who receive care from an out of network doctor or clinic. Conversely, those with coverage can expect out-of-pocket costs to fall somewhere in the $21,000 and $39,000 range.
Fortunately, the vast majority of cases don’t require long term care and assisted breathing treatment. Most of these cases require only a brief hospital visit. Those in this camp, with coverage, can expect to pay somewhere between $1,200 and $2,200.
Ways To Reduce COVID-19 Related Care Costs
As the pandemic began to make its way across America, governments and healthcare providers started to make changes to the ways that they charged infected patients for care services. For example, the federal government declared that all testing costs would no longer be paid by the individual in question. Additionally, many health insurance companies waived portions of people’s out-of-pocket expenses.
Beyond this, there are several things individuals can do to lower their hospital bills, the most important of which are covered below.
Take Advantage Of Telehealth Services
As hospitals began to fill up, many doctors began video conferencing with patients over platforms such as Zoom and Skype. This is important because many insurance providers have been waiving all costs associated with Telehealth services. This was done in order to help assist doctors and medical professionals who work within overcrowded facilities.
For those without coverage, Telehealth services cost significantly less than in-person visits. This can greatly reduce one’s overall medical expenses.
Review Medical Bills
Anyone who’s worked in a medical office knows that every single procedure, test, or medication has its own code. These codes are used to charge patients and health insurance companies. In almost all cases, these bills are hand-coded by clinic staff and then sent out to the appropriate parties. Unfortunately, nearly one of five bills have coding errors on them. This can result in large price differences.
Patients should closely review their medical expenses to be sure they’re being charged for the care that they received, and not something else.
Use Health Savings Account For Out-Of-Pocket Expenses
A health savings account is a tax-free savings plan that can be used towards paying off qualified medical expenses. All funds added to the account are untaxed. Furthermore, there aren’t any taxes on the accrued interest earnings.
How To Pay Off Medical Bills
- Payment plan: Some clinics allow patients to enroll in a payment plan to help pay off their medical expenses. The terms vary from clinic to clinic. Moreover, some may charge 0% interest while others may charge high amounts
- Medical loans: Perhaps the most common solution, many individuals decide to take out a loan to help pay off their medical expenses. Not all banks and large lenders will approve loans for this purpose. However, many online lenders will
- Credit card: Many individuals end up paying their medical bills with their credit card. While this may work, it’s strongly advised against. Credit cards carry high interest rates which can result in thousands of dollars in interest payments
With a virus as highly transmissible as COVID-19, everyone has the chance of winding up in the hospital at some point. For those that do, it’s important that they pay close attention to what they’ve been billed for and what coverage they’re provided. Those who can’t pay for their end bill may have to look to financing options, such as medical loans, to help pay off their balance.