Lawmakers have made it free to receive a coronavirus test, but if you need treatment to beat the virus, it could cost you thousands of dollars, even if you have insurance.
According to the independent nonprofit FAIR Health, those hospitalized with coronavirus can expect to pay anywhere from $42,486 to $74,310 if they are uninsured or if they receive care that’s deemed out-of-network by their insurance company.
Those with health insurance who are using in-network providers will pay significantly less. Out-of-pocket costs will be a portion of $21,936 to $38,755, depending on the cost-sharing provisions of their health plan.
To determine the figure, FAIR Health used its database of more than 30 billion private healthcare claim records and estimates of Medicare and Medicaid costs to project U.S. costs for coronavirus patients requiring an inpatient stay using diagnosis-related groups that suffered from pneumonia.
Using this method and another cost analysis, FAIR determined uninsured Americans with coronavirus could pay an estimated average of $73,300 for a 6-day hospital stay. Insured patients could expect to pay a portion of the $38,221 average cost billed to insurers.
FAIR Health acknowledged most people who contract the virus will be able to beat it at home. Another way to cut healthcare costs, according to the company is to use 24-hour nurse hotline programs offered by an employer or health insurance company.
“These may save you a trip to the doctor’s office entirely, and at the very least will cost less than a trip to the ER,” said Kim Buckey of DirectPath, an organization that guides employees to make better healthcare decisions.
According to FAIR Health, the average charge for telehealth services was about $43 for those without insurance. Insurers were charged $34 for a 5- to 10-minute telehealth visit.
For those who need to be hospitalized, Buckley recommends that someone you know keep track of what tests you are given, what medication and treatment you receive, which doctors you see and how often you see them.
“That information may be helpful when you receive your bill,” she said adding that some of these costs might be covered or waived.
African Americans and other minorities are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. Many low-wage workers have been fired or seen their hours cut in recent weeks. Additionally, minorities are less likely to telecommute, meaning they are more likely to abandon social distancing guidelines to work.