A new study suggests that Americans severely ill due to COVID-19 in 2021 may have to pay thousands of dollars in bills to hospitals, doctors and ambulance companies.This new analysis from the University of Michigan, published in “JAMA Network Open”, affects policy makers and people who have not yet been vaccinated and people with underlying diseases that make it possible for them to have a serious breakthrough in COVID-19. Sexual cases.
Most health insurance companies voluntarily waived copayments, deductions, and other cost sharing for hospitalized COVID-19 patients in 2020, but many major insurance companies cancelled these waivers in early 2021. In the surge in cases that has occurred since the beginning of 2021, tens of thousands of Americans have become seriously ill and receive hospital or emergency treatment.
Based on data from actual patients hospitalized with COVID-19 last year, the study shows that the lack of exemptions may mean that people with work-related or self-purchased private insurance will have to pay about $3,800 in bills, while those with Medicare Advantage plans It’s $1500.
“Many insurance companies claim that the COVID-19 vaccine is now widely used, so it is reasonable to charge patients for COVID-19 hospitalization,” said Kao-Ping Chua, the lead author of the study’s paper. “However, some are hospitalized due to COVID-19. Of people are not eligible for vaccinations, such as young children, while others are vaccinated patients who have experienced severe breakthrough infections. Our research shows that these patients may have to face a lot of bills.” Chuan is a doctor of medicine, Michigan Health policy researcher and pediatrician of Medicine and Susan B. Meister Child Health Assessment Research Center.
This new study analyzed more than 4,000 COVID-related hospitalizations among people with private insurance and medical insurance advantage insurance between March and September 2020. These data come from the IQVIA PharMetrics Plus for Academics database, which covers claims data from multiple insurance companies across the United States.
The researchers found that the vast majority of patients do not need to pay for hospital services such as changing wards and beds, which shows that their plan abandons the cost-sharing of the bills issued by the hospital. However, in the few patients who have to pay for hospital services-which shows that the exemption is not in place-the out-of-pocket costs have reached thousands of dollars.
This direct payment to the patient is only a fraction of the average cost of caring for a hospitalized COVID-19 patient. The study found that people with private insurance spent an average of US$42,200 per hospitalization, while COVID-19 patients with medical insurance advantage insurance cost an average of US$21,400 per hospitalization.
Chua and his colleagues originally published these findings in preprint form in June 2021. Since then, the Kaiser Family Foundation has analyzed the exemptions of the two largest insurance companies in each state and found that by August 2021, 72% of insurance companies have ended their exemptions for COVID-19 hospitalization.
Waivers don’t always cover doctor’s bills
The study also showed that insurance companies’ cost-sharing exemptions for COVID-19 hospitalizations do not always cover all hospitalization-related care. For example, patients in research often receive bills from doctors who take care of patients in hospitals and from ambulance companies.
In total, 71% of privately insured patients received bills for any hospital-related services, with an average amount of US$788. Among those with Medicare Advantage Insurance, 49% received bills with an average amount of US$277.
Chua pointed out that some insurance companies may only waive the hospital part of the bill, but he believes that it may be because the insurance company mistakenly implemented their exemption, or the medical service provider did not code all aspects of care as related to COVID- 19 related, so some patients were mistaken for doctors and ambulance service bills.
For those who have received bills related to COVID-19 hospitalization, even if their insurance company still has immunity, Chua recommends that they contact their insurance company to inquire whether the bill was issued in error.
Chua believes that it is wrong to charge patients for any emergency hospitalization fees, but is particularly concerned about the issue of charges for COVID-19 hospitalization. “One of my main concerns is that the threat of high costs may cause some severe COVID-19 patients to delay going to the hospital and increase their risk of death.”
To prevent this possibility, Chua said that federal policymakers can require insurance companies to waive COVID-19 hospitalization-related care costs throughout the pandemic – just like they have done for COVID-19 testing and vaccination. . However, he added that, given the widespread anger about not being vaccinated, policymakers are unlikely to do so.
Hospitals that receive special funding for the pandemic have been banned from directly charging patients beyond their insurance coverage. Hospitals are also reimbursed by the federal government when they take care of uninsured COVID-19 patients.