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Why a COVID diagnosis could cost you more in 2021


WEDNESDAY, June 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) – COVID-19 could be a much more costly experience for people who fall ill this year, thanks to the return of deductibles and co-payments, new research suggests.

Most of the people who fell seriously ill with COVID in the last year have not faced overwhelming medical bills because nearly all insurance companies have agreed to forgo cost-sharing for coronavirus care in the United States. stronger from the pandemic, explained health policy researcher Dr Kao-Ping Chua. and pediatrician at the University of Michigan.

But some people received a big bill because their insurer refused to forgo cost sharing, and their debts give a good idea of ​​what many hospitalized COVID patients will have to pay this year, Chua said.

“We’ve seen some really big insurers drop their cost-sharing exemptions this year,” Chua said. “Insurers seem to be acting like the pandemic is over, and we think it’s premature for them to act that way.”

Chua noted that as of last week, some 20,000 Americans have been hospitalized for COVID even though there has been a continuing decline in cases.

For this study, Chua and his colleagues looked at claim data from several insurers in the United States, looking specifically for people who received a full bill for their COVID hospitalization.

They identified more than 4,000 hospitalizations between March and September 2020 where it does not appear that the insurer has given up on cost sharing. These patients had to pay for a share of all their care, from the hospital room and board to the doctors who saw them and the drugs they received.

People who did not benefit from cost-sharing exemptions ended up paying about $ 3,800, on average, out of pocket if they had private insurance and on average $ 1,500 if they were covered by a Medicare plan. Advantage, according to the data.

“Now that insurers are dropping their cost-sharing exemptions, that’s about what the bills might be for patients covered by plans who have chosen to do so,” Chua said.

In comparison, respiratory infections during the pre-COVID period of 2016 to 2019 resulted in average spending of $ 1,600 to $ 2,000 for private policyholders, the researchers said in briefing notes.