The Real Cost of Hospitalization with Covid-19

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Insurers and state governments are getting rid of Covid-19 related cost-sharing waivers, so people hospitalized with the virus can expect to pay at least some of the treatment costs, which can be tens of thousands of dollars.

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The Real Cost of Hospitalization with Covid-19

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We’re well into the marathon known as the Covid-19 pandemic, with the goal to survive, both clinically and financially. When it first became clear that Covid-19 was rapidly making its way through the U.S. population, federal, and state governments acted quickly to encourage everyone with the virus to get the treatment they needed.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 installed these provisions for treatment-related financial relief:

  • Free Covid-19 testing
  • Lowering the out-of-pocket costs related to treatment of Covid-19 for insured patients (most Medicare plans covered treatment at 100%)

In addition, some states like California offered cost-sharing waivers for treatment of Covid-19, that included testing, vaccines, clinical visits, emergency services, and hospital care. But as infections have decreased, and vaccination rates risen, insurers and state governments are rolling back their cost-sharing waivers. That means if you’re one of the 20% of people who contract Covid-19 that require hospitalization, and you have insurance, you will most likely be responsible for some out-of-pocket costs that are outlined in your insurance policy. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll be responsible for paying the entire cost of your care, which could be significant.

How Much it Costs to be Hospitalized with Covid-19

The total cost for being hospitalized with Covid-19 ranges between $38,221 and almost $1 million according to a brief by FAIR Health. Like any medical issue, the range in Covid-19 hospitalization depends on many factors including:

  • The geographic location in which you’re receiving treatment.
  • The hospital at which you’re receiving treatment.
  • The severity of your case.
  • How long you stay in the hospital: Most people who survive Covid-19 spend between 1 and 5 days in the hospital, but the median number of days for hospital treatment is 9. That means there is a small group of people staying in the hospital for a very long time.
  • Your age. The average age for hospitalization is 54.
  • Whether or not you have any comorbidities like diabetes. People with comorbidities are twice as likely to require hospitalization.
  • Whether or not you have insurance. Insurance companies can negotiate with providers to get lower rates. Individuals typically don’t have the same bargaining power so they end up paying more for the same care.

To get a better understanding of how much it’s likely to cost you if you’re hospitalized with the disease, we’ve broken the costs into tiers based on age with breakouts for other extenuating factors based on data shared by FAIR Health.

Total COVID-19 Cost for People aged 20 years or less

  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization(1-5 days): $68,261
  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (6-10 days): $155,619
  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (11-15 days): $324,285
  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (15+ days): Data not available

Total COVID-19 Cost for People Aged Between 21 and 40 years

  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (1-5 days): $51,389
  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (6-10 days): Data not available
  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (11-15 days): Data not available
  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (15+ days): $980,821

Total COVID-19 Cost for People Aged Between 41 and 60 years

  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (1-5 days): $78,569
  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (6-10 days): Data not available
  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (11-15 days): Data not available
  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (15+ days): Data not available

Total COVID-19 Cost for People Aged Over 60 years

  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (1-5 days): $77,323
  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (6-10 days): $89,874
  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (11-15 days): $152,388
  • Average cost of COVID-19 Hospitalization (15+ days): $460,989

Please note that these are the average costs for all patients in this age group who were hospitalized for the indicated number of days. In this section we’ll parse out how some extenuating factors affect how much you’ll pay for your Covid-19 related hospital stay:

  • Ventilators. The total cost of hospitalization for people who did not need a ventilator was $12,692. People who needed a ventilator for 96 hours or less paid on average $34,223. People who needed a ventilator for more than 96 hours paid an average of $88,114.
  • Comorbidities. People who suffered from comorbidities when they contracted Covid-19 paid roughly 30% more for their hospital stay than those who didn’t suffer comorbidities.
  • ICU stay. Patients who required a stay in the ICU during their hospitalization for Covid-19 paid 45 times more than people who did not require a stay in the ICU.

Now compare these numbers to the average cost for treating Covid-19 in an outpatient setting (i.e. at home, with visits to, and treatment regime prescribed by, the family doctor) which is between $500 and $1,000.

What Those COVID-19 Costs Entail

Roughly 90% of your hospital bill will consist of hospital fees. The rest will be the physicians’ fees. Like everything else, the physician’s fees vary widely depending on the type of care you need. For instance, if you need a ventilator for less than 96 hours, your physicians’ fees will be $3,000 on average. But if you need the ventilator for more than 96 hours, those fees will average $9,000.

How to prevent going to the hospital

The single best way to prevent a Covid-19 related hospital stay is to not get Covid-19. Prevention methods include:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Wear a mask
  • Socially distance

If you have a comorbidity, see a doctor about getting your condition under control. If you do contract Covid-19, see a doctor and follow their recommended treatment regimens.

Even if you have health insurance, your co-insurance obligation for a Covid-19 related hospital stay could be staggering. If you have an HSA or FSA, you can use those deposits to pay for your out-of-pocket costs, but perhaps the cheapest way to pay for a Covid-19 hospitalization is to avoid it altogether. Take care of yourself.

Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.

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