COVID treatment can push up $ 1 million to $ 2 million in patient bills

Steve Stites, MD, Chief Medical Officer

The University of Kansas Health System

The number of active COVID patients at the University of Kansas health system was stable on Wednesday. 38 patients with the active virus are treated, the same as yesterday. Only five of these 38 are vaccinated. 16 patients are in intensive care, against 13 yesterday and only one of these patients is vaccinated.

Nine are on ventilators, compared to seven yesterday. 40 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID but came out of the acute infection phase, up from 41 yesterday. That’s a total of 78 patients, up from 79 yesterday. HaysMed has 15 patients in total, up from 14 yesterday.

Today another episode of Open Mics With Dr. Stites. Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer of the health system at the University of Kansas, was joined by Colette Lasack, vice president of the health system’s revenue cycle. They took a close look at the evolution of insurance for COVID patients.

Lasack revealed a mind-boggling number. She says it’s common for a COVID patient who has been hospitalized for several weeks with intensive and extraordinary care ends up with a bill of over $ 1 million. Some have exceeded two million dollars. How is someone supposed to pay back this huge sum? In his words, “You don’t.”

She explained how the health care system goes out of its way to help patients get coverage, and said there is a high discount rate for the uninsured, but sometimes that still leaves people with a bill for a hundred. thousand dollars, which is still impossible to pay for many. In this case, when all other avenues are exhausted, the health care system sometimes has to write off the bill as charitable care. It places a burden on the whole system. She says most people don’t realize how financially devastating COVID can be for patients and their families, especially for younger patients who might not be able to return to work for a long time, if ever.

She mentioned that things are unlikely to improve for insurance, as many companies begin to end their initial practice of forgoing deductibles and co-payments for COVID treatment. This is because they are starting to treat COVID as a preventable disease, and the unvaccinated may have to pay more for insurance, like smokers, because they are at higher risk. This is already the case for Delta Airlines employees, and she says it is an employer’s choice. Lasack also mentioned long-distance patients and said there is currently no special coverage for them beyond their normal insurance if they have it. The only things that still don’t have a cost are COVID testing, vaccination, and treatments like monoclonal antibodies. She urges anyone who is resistant to the vaccine or even who wears a mask to think about your risk and the consequences of your behavior. She says, “Consider not only your health, but also your financial health and what that might mean for you and your family. ”

Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Kansas Health System, pointed out recent CDC discoveries
that even with Delta, fully vaccinated people had a five-fold reduced risk of infection, ten-fold reduced risk of hospitalization, and more than 10-fold reduced risk of death. To those worried about reports of blood clots and myocarditis from the vaccine, especially in adolescents, he says these cases are extremely rare. He says the risk of these conditions of contracting COVID is much higher and the effects much more severe. He urges parents not to be swayed by protests and demonstrations against masks in schools, saying there is good real evidence from large random controlled trials that masks work to prevent the spread of COVID. He believes the increase in immunization is contributing to the current downward trend in hospitalizations.

Dr Stites says the biggest threat from unvaccinated people is that we can’t go back to real life. He thinks the reason we are not succeeding with the pandemic in the United States is not that we have no way out. These are the ones who refuse to follow the science and do the right thing.

He says, “For all those people who said it wasn’t safe, there are two billion doses that say it’s extremely safe, and it’s a lot safer than having COVID.” To those who say masks and vaccinations are unconstitutional, he points out that the Constitution says with freedom comes responsibility.

“At some point we have to stop fighting over whether COVID is real. Of course it’s real. He asks, “When is it not okay for a smaller and smaller group of people to prevent the rest of society held hostage from resuming normal life?” ”

He points out that vaccinated patients do not die, that they spread the virus to a much lesser degree, and that vaccinated countries like Denmark with a 75% vaccination rate are able to lift restrictions and reopen society. “The vaccination is safe, effective and effective. ”

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