Cost of Care: The price tag for COVID-19 treatment

Published: October 21, 2021 3:39 PM EDT
Updated: October 21, 2021 6:27 PM EDT

As COVID-19 swept across the world in 2020, insurance providers were covering 100% of medical expenses. Now, getting sick with COVID-19 could cost more than a million dollars.

During a serious case of COVID-19, making it to the next day becomes the only priority.

“You gotta fight the fight and hope for survival. And pray. I prayed a lot,” said Gina Chiki. She and her husband Albert know the fight all too well.

Albert has barely been home for a week after spending nine months hospitalized with COVID-19.

He suffered a stroke and ‘died’ twice during his time in the hospital, only to eventually recover and come home.

“Just waking up and he’s next to me. Or going to bed, I can kiss him goodnight.” Gina continued, “I’m just so happy to have him back home!”

But when the dust settles after a battle with COVID-19, survivors face another hurdle: stacks of medical bills.

At a minimum, patients will have to pay their max deductible, which can reach five figures with some providers.

Jon Hess with Athos Health says the most expensive scenario is even worse.”The worst-case scenario is if you don’t have insurance. Then it can be very debilitating. If you’re in the hospital for an extended period of time, you can rack up a million-plus dollars in expenses very quickly. It can be life-altering,” said Hess.

For Gina Chiki that worst-case is covered, “his medical costs alone are over a million dollars. Insurance has covered a lot of it, thank god.”

Experts say coverage started to change as the public got access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“You now have an opportunity to be vaccinated which is going to limit your chance of a hospitalization,” said Hess.

Experts say this type of coverage is likely here to stay, but Hess said, “I don’t see any incentive for them to say, we’re going to cover covid 100 percent.”

You don’t think about that. All you think about is having your loved one back with you and healthy,” said Gina. She and Albert are treating every day as a blessing.

Between physical therapy sessions, they can play with their dogs or watch their beloved Pittsburgh Steelers, simple joys that seem like miracles now.

As for their mounting pile of bills, “those bills will get done when they get done. There’s no way around it. Life goes on,” said Gina.

Experts told WINK News that families can talk with hospitals about payment plans and even forgiveness plans if families are eligible. They do not see a scenario where the COVID-19 vaccine shot or COVID-19 tests become more expensive.

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