If getting COVID or even just ending up in the hospital over the past couple of years wasn’t bad enough, patients have been getting a big surprise with their medical bills after their hospitalization.
The healthcare system may have received billions in aid and financial bailouts from taxpayers. Doesn’t seem to be getting passed on to the taxpayers and hospitalized patients. Not only have they been receiving unexpected bills for thousands of dollars, but it also seems like it will only get worse.
Hopefully, you haven’t personally experienced this for yourself. But unfortunately, some patients are finding bills for thousands of dollars in their mailbox after getting COVID, even if they had health insurance. Just imagine the bill if multiple members of your household have caught it or if you end up getting it a second time.
The average cash-out-of-pocket bill for COVID hospital treatment has been right around $4,000. According to the Center for Infectious Disease Research Control and Policy, that amount is for those with private insurance. Even for those with Medicare Advantage coverage, the average out-of-pocket cost is over $1,600 per stay.
Those figures line up with investigative journalism by News 4 Nashville, which reports that patients are being billed $4,000 after their hospital stay.
More patients can expect to pay even more for their healthcare from this year from now on.
The law firm of Holland & Knight points out that the Provider Relief Fund set up by congress committed $178B to help give healthcare providers additional funds through COVID.
PwC reports that costs for medical providers only increased by 5.7% to 7% per year from 2019 to 2022. Expected to be lower this year,
despite modest increases in their costs and billions in additional financial bailouts, the cost of medical care for patients only seems to be going up.
Made worse because insurers are no longer waiving out-of-pocket costs and deductibles for COVID. Health plans are ending cost-sharing, even for ‘fully insured’ patients. A spokesperson for the Kaiser Family Foundation says this will cause a lot of financial ruin for a lot of people. Many stopped helping last year. March 2022, 95% of insurers expected to have stopped helping with COVID bills.
This financial distress will only impact people’s health negatively and lead to more doctor and hospital visits, plus more bills, if they can even get treatment.
Over the past decade, health insurance premiums have already risen by 47% and deductibles by 68.4%. That outpaced both general inflation and wage growth during that period. So with current extreme rates of inflation on everything, everyone should be bracing for higher premiums and getting less healthcare for their out-of-pocket spending.
People put off regular healthcare services. After elective procedures are done during COVID. This includes cancer treatment and surgeries. Catching up with that will cost patients a lot more, with worse outcomes.
Plus, many have found they’ve been eating worse and exercising less with all the lockdowns and restrictions since the pandemic started. Finally, add a broken private healthcare system where doctors of all types try to force tests and procedures on patients, often just for the extra dollars.
An addition to increases of 30% on other types of insurance plans, like auto insurance. Moreover, with the recent issues between Russia and Ukraine, experts are warning gas prices could go up to $7 a gallon. Not to mention food costs and other essentials.
If you haven’t planned and saved enough money for all of these thousands of dollars in extra medical bills, it can be a big problem. You may even find you are eventually denied care at local hospitals.
More jurisdictions like NY have tried to implement rules to help those hit with surprise bills they shouldn’t be getting.
Since medical bills can negatively impact your credit and your entire life, it is wise to address them rather than bury your head in the sand. Credit bureau Equifax recommends getting quotes in advance for care then negotiating with providers, after that, carefully reviewing and contesting your bills.
The best way to avoid thousands in medical bills this year is not to get COVID.
masks dust n95
According to the latest data from the CDC, the best way to lower your chances of infection and transmit the virus to those you love and pay medical bills to get vaccinated and use N95 masks.
The good news is that these face masks and other forms of PPE can now be deductible from your income taxes. Be sure to keep your receipts and ask your tax preparer about this.
Patients are getting surprise bills for thousands of dollars. Even if fully insured. In addition, healthcare premiums and deductibles are also likely rising this year.
Getting COVID is just getting more expensive. New, more contagious variants of COVID could well put more in the hospital this year, too.
Make sure you don’t get it. Instead, get vaccinated and ensure you have an adequate supply of N95 masks on hand.
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