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U of M study finds COVID-19 patients face expensive out-of-pocket hospital costs

Bret Kavanaugh for Unsplash.com

A new University of Michiganstudy finds many COVID-19 patients can expect to pay thousands of dollars if they are hospitalized.

Dr. Kao-Ping Chua is a health policy researcher and pediatrician at Michigan Medicine and the Susan B. Meister Child Health Evaluation Research Center. In his research, Chua focuses on out-of-pocket medical expenses.

He says in the early stages of the COVID pandemic most insurance companies waived out-of-pocket hospital expenses for COVID patients.

“Now that’s no longer the case, people should expect pretty large bills if they do get hospitalized,” said Chua.

Chua says people with company-based health care coverage or individual insurance can expect to pay on average $3,800 in out of pocket expenses for a COVID hospital stay. Seniors on Medicare Advantage would pay about $1,500.

He hopes the potential costs won’t discourage people from seeking treatment.

“My main concern is that by publicizing these results about out of pocket spending that this is going to make people afraid of going into the hospital because they don’t want to be faced with a really large bill,” said Chua, “I would just encourage patients not to do that.”

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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