Are Insurance Companies Waiving COVID Hospital Costs?

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KFF study: 82% of mutuals will stop waiving COVID hospital costs by October 2021.

SAN DIEGO – If you are not currently vaccinated against COVID-19, prepare to start paying more for COVID hospital care and possibly health insurance.

At the start of the pandemic, many insurance companies were waiving hospital care costs for COVID patients. Now, most of these cost exemptions are coming to an end.

In November 2020, 88% of group health insurance plans waived all costs associated with COVID-19 hospital stays, according to a study by KFF, a nonprofit health policy analysis group.

By October 2021, 82% of health insurance plans will no longer reject these expenses, according to the study.

“What this means for patients is that if you have a hospital stay linked to COVID, you are going to have to pay your deductible and coinsurance, which could run into the thousands of dollars,” said Cynthia cox, vice-president of KFF and co-author of the study.

One of the reasons health insurers were voluntarily waiving hospital costs related to COVID was because they wanted to avoid a federal mandate from Congress, according to Cox.

“If there had been a federal mandate, they couldn’t have stopped waiving these costs when they wanted to,” Cox said.

Now that these COVID cost waivers expire, unvaccinated patients are the ones who will pay most of the hospital expenses.

Nationwide – between June and August 2021 – 98.6% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 were not vaccinated, resulting in preventable hospital costs of $ 5.7 billion, according to a KFF study.

And those costs could soon be passed on to employees in the form of increased health care premiums.

Delta Airlines, for example, recently announced that unvaccinated workers will have to pay $ 200 more per month for health insurance.

“Some companies have a mandate that says ‘if you don’t get the vaccine, you get laid off, you lose your job.’ The other companies, like Delta, have had a slightly softer approach where they say, “If you don’t get the vaccine, you can still keep your job but you have to go for regular testing, and you also have to pay a fee. higher premium each month for your health insurance, ”Cox said.

The average cost of a COVID hospital stay is $ 20,000, according to the KFF report, and costs increase dramatically if a patient is admitted to the ICU.

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