Delay in elective procedures due to COVID could cause healthcare cost to skyrocket

Healthcare groups across the country, including Lee Health, are delaying some elective procedures to deal with the rising cases of COVID-19.

However, those delays can affect the cost of care for patients.

Elective procedures are case-by-case, but experts urge patients to get informed and speak with multiple professionals before taking any action.

Hospitals are nearing capacity, forcing tough decisions to be made when it comes to prioritizing operations.

“This virus spiking in different areas in an unpredictable manner is overwhelming healthcare systems,” said Dylan Geraci with KMG Insurance Solutions.

Some groups have delayed elective procedures entirely while others like Lee Health are only offering a small, limited amount.

If your elected procedure is still available, experts recommend making the decision carefully.

“It really comes down to someone’s level of pain,” Geraci said. “Is your quality of life really being affected by the level of pain they’re in? Can you not live the quality of life that you want to live? If yes, then you want to get that procedure done.”

The delay in procedures could cause costs to skyrocket for individuals.

Especially because some patients strategically plan their operation, often first spending their medical deductible before going under the knife.

Jon Hess with Athos Health said if patients are forced to wait until after their benefits reset, it could cost tens of thousands of dollars out of their pocket.

“Depending on how long this goes, and how long it takes to reschedule some of these procedures, you might have a year where you have to pay your deductible again,” said Hess, chief executive officer with Athos Health.

“You might have some extra cost that you weren’t planning on,” Hess added.

The word “elective” can be subjective with medical professionals and affordable care at a premium.

If a patient is dealing with increasingly unbearable pain, experts say more advice could lead to the right solution.

“You’ve got to be a smart consumer in medical care. You want to seek a second opinion when you’re told to get a surgery. You want to do your own research,” Geraci said.

Hess agrees.

“Most physicians I know are more than willing to have that conversation with their patients. And if you’re confused or get an answer you don’t like, get a second opinion. Don’t be afraid to ask for it,” Hess said.

MORE INFORMATION:

Serious medical procedures can be intimidating.

For more information that can help you make a smart decision, here is a list of expert-recommended websites:

U.S. Preventative Services Task Force 

ABIM Foundation’s Choosing Wisely 

Cochrane

JAMA Internal Medicine 

If you or a loved one have had any issues or questions about cost of care, you can email [email protected]

Reporter:Peter Fleischer
Writer:Melissa Montoya
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