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Why COVID was able to spend so much money in 2021

Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter

Thursday, June 10, 2021

COVID-19 (New Coronavirus Infection) New studies suggest that the deductions and refunds of co-payments could be a much more expensive experience for those who get sick this year.

Most people who became seriously ill with COVID last year did not face rising medical costs as almost all insurers agreed to abandon the cost share of coronavirus treatment during the pandemic, health. Policy researcher Dr. Kao-Ping Chua explained. Pediatrician at the University of Michigan.

However, some have received high claims because the insurer refused to abandon the cost burden, and their debt provides a good idea of ​​how many inpatient COVID patients have to pay this year. , Said Mr. Chua.

“This year, some very large insurers have abandoned the cost-sharing exemption,” Chua said. “Insurers seem to behave like the pandemic is over, and I feel it’s too early to do so.”

As of last week, Chua noted that about 20,000 Americans were hospitalized for COVID, despite the continued decline in cases.

For this study, Chua and his colleagues reviewed billing data from multiple insurance companies across the United States, especially looking for people who paid the full amount for COVID hospitalization.

They identified more than 4,000 hospitalizations between March and September 2020, but it did not appear that the insurer had abandoned the cost burden. These patients had to pay part of all the treatment, from the room and diet to the doctor who was seen and the medicines they received.

People who did not benefit from the cost sharing exemption wound According to the data, if you have private insurance, you will pay an average of about $ 3,800, and if you are covered by the Medicare Advantage plan, you will pay an average of $ 1,500 at your own expense.

“Now that the insurer has abandoned the exemption from the cost burden, it’s about the same as the amount billed by the patients covered by the plan they chose,” Chua said.

By comparison, respiratory tract infections during the pre-COVID-19 period from 2016 to 2019 increased the average out-of-pocket cost for private insureds from $ 1,600 to $ 2,000, researchers said in a background note. It is stated in.

The findings are published on the preprint server medRxiv and have not yet been peer reviewed.

Treatment costs COVID-19 (New Coronavirus Infection) “In fact, it could be higher than we saw in this study,” said Cheryl Fish-Parcham, director of the Access Initiative at Families USA, a national nonpartisan consumer health advocacy group. “In addition to hospital costs, if there is a long-term impact of COVID, people may face costs when they go home.”

Chua’s team also remains, even for those who have benefited from some sort of cost-sharing exemption. wound Make some payments for their COVID hospital care.

Approximately seven of the ten COVID hospitalizations filed some invoices with private-sector insured patients, accounting for about half of the Medicare Advantage hospitalizations.

Even if the hospital costs were exempted, Chua said people received invoices from the doctors who provided the inpatient treatment and the ambulance service that took them to the hospital.

“Insurer cost-sharing exemptions covered most of the bill, but not all COVID hospitalization-related care,” Chua said.

They faced an average claim of about $ 800 for private insurance and about $ 300 for Medicare Advantage.

The threat of a large COVID hospital bill may encourage some reluctant people to vaccinate, but Chua said, “Rather, this is not a way to be confident that people will be vaccinated.” It was.

That’s because he’s worried that the risk of big hospital bills might prevent people from taking care of people who can save their lives.

“We don’t want people to be discouraged from getting the care they need because of the potential for high costs,” Chua said.

Chua concludes that the US federal government needs to intervene if insurers continue to withdraw COVID’s cost-sharing exemption.

“During the pandemic, we need to consider the federal obligation to require insurers to cover all costs of COVID hospitalization,” Chua said.

Fish-Parcham also expects the federal government to intervene to limit all medical out-of-pocket costs, whether COVID or not.

In the meantime, many states have offered consumer support programs to help solve billing problems between patients and insurers, Fish-Parcham said.

“If you’re in the state, we encourage consumers to use these programs,” says Fish-Parcham.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, an insurance industry group, did not respond to requests for comment.

For more information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Prevention For more information COVID-19 (New Coronavirus Infection)..

Source: Kao-Ping Chua, MD, PhD, Health Policy Researcher and Pediatrician, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Cheryl Fish-Parcham, Director, Access Initiative, Families USA; medRxivMay 30, 2021

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Why COVID was able to spend so much money in 2021

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