Patient cost of COVID treatments set to rise for some

SALT LAKE CITY – As of August 31, 2021, 485 people are currently hospitalized to fight against COVID-19.

Not all of those hospital stays come cheap.

As of September 1, some patients may have to pay more than expected as insurance companies stop paying 100% of the cost of COVID treatments.

“I received invoice after invoice after invoice”

Cass Ho was hospitalized with COVID-19 in May 2020, when the pandemic was still new and hospitals were not yet overcapacity of intensive care patients.

“It was really tough,” Ho said. “I was in critical condition and ended up on a ventilator and probably very close to death.”

Ho said she was in intensive care for two weeks, including nine days of which she was intubated and in a coma.

“Luckily I was able to get through it, one way or another,” she said.

As she began to heal at home, the bills started rolling in.

“I received bill after bill after bill,” she exclaimed. “They came by pages and by pages.”

Overall, Ho estimates that his stay in intensive care cost around $ 125,000.

“I know my doctor was $ 550 a day, and then there was all the meds, all the nursing care that came in,” she said. “They charge everything. Every pill, every injection … all the oxygen. I was on a ventilator. Fans are extremely expensive.

Good news for Ho, she didn’t have to fork out a penny out of her pocket. What his health insurance plan did not cover, his supplemental insurance covered.

Ho said it was a relief to have this burden on her shoulders as she recovers from the effects of COVID-19.

“It plays a huge role in your recovery,” she said. “Because if you have a financial obligation and you’re insured, even if it’s 80%, you’re still stuck with that bill. And if you’re in bad shape, on a ventilator, and in intensive care, you’ve got a six-figure bill. “

The costs of COVID hospitalizations

Other Americans have also found that large bills do not follow them home.

In Utah, KSL investigators found that two major insurance companies have 100% covered the costs of COVID treatment for its members: SelectHealth and Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield.

It’s changing. As of September 1, SelectHealth will apply the normal “plan benefits” to its members receiving COVID treatment.

His spokesperson sent this statement to KSL-TV:

“SelectHealth carefully reviewed the claims data and considered what other carriers were doing with regards to removing COVID coverage before making this decision. We also took into account the availability of vaccines and their ability to reduce the impacts of COVID. We continue to cover 100% testing and vaccinations for COVID and COVID treatment according to plan benefits, and we will continue to encourage individuals to get vaccinated. “

Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Utah will change its policy from “no reimbursable fees to members” to normal plan benefits effective January 1, 2022.

KSL investigators looked at other major Utah insurance providers and found that the United Healthcare, PEHP, and University of Utah health plans currently cover COVID treatments under the normal cost-sharing of coinsurance, in accordance with contracts of their members. Medicare also treats COVID treatment like regular billing.

This means that patients can expect bills for things like co-payments, deductibles, and maximum amounts.

With severe cases of COVID, you can probably expect to pay your maximum out-of-pocket expenses if you are hospitalized.

According to independent, nonprofit healthcare cost estimator FAIR Health, the average price for COVID ICU patients in Utah with complexities was $ 223,462, with eligible charges for health insurance at $ 112,808.

Nationally, COVID hospitalizations without complexities cost patients an average of $ 59,536. That’s higher in Utah, with an average bill of $ 82,155.

COVID-19 vaccines remain free.

The Utah Department of Health reports that the vast majority of people currently hospitalized with COVID have not received any of the available COVID-19 vaccines.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has so far found that unvaccinated COVID patients have cost hospitals $ 2 billion nationwide.

Have you had COVID-19 and received medical treatment for it? We would like to see the bills to get a better idea of ​​what COVID is costing the Utah community. Send them to [email protected]

Have you been through something that you think is wrong? KSL investigators want to help. Send your tip to [email protected] or 385-707-6153 so we can work for you.

About John Tuttle

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