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How much can a COVID-19 hospital stay cost you if you're uninsured?

Hundreds Fanned Out
Posted at 6:18 AM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 23:29:29-04

TULSA, Okla. — Contracting COVID-19 can plunge you into a world of uncertainty.

Depending on your situation, you may have to be hospitalized and that’s when the cost can really put a strain on your wallet.

The average hospital stay for a COVID-19 patient is anywhere from 7 to 10 days.

If you must be ventilated, you can expect to spend up to 30 days or more.

For those with health insurance – the price of a hospital stay for COVID-19 care is going to depend on the type of plan you have, but what about those without health insurance?

“I didn’t have insurance at all. I am self-employed and I'm not even 40. I wasn’t expecting anything major to happen and if I did get COVID, I wasn’t expecting it to be as severe as it was," says Samantha Ross.

Ross, like many other Oklahomans who are self-employed, did not have insurance.

“In two months, had I thought I would be fighting for my life hooked up to machines, I would have worried about getting insurance at that point, but it wasn’t something that was even on my radar," she says.

Her whole world was turned upside down when she contracted COVID-19 last December.

"I just went to the emergency room and knew that the bills would be there later, but I wanted to be able to still be here," says Ross.

Thankfully, she recovered and was sent home to deal with the aftermath of mounting, medical bills.

"Since then, I have received both of the emergency room bills which ended up being right around $5,000. I have still not received the hospital bill yet," she says.

And it’s that looming, hospital bill that keeps her up at night.

"Talking to other friends who have experienced this kind of situation, I am expecting over $100,000 for the bill," says Ross.

Bennett Geister is the CEO for Hillcrest Hospital South.

He says getting COVID-19, for some, can be extremely expensive.

"There is a lot of costs. At a minimum, you’ve got an opportunity cost. You lose time, you lose relationships, and in some cases, you are losing PTO if you are a working person," says Geister.

According to FairHealth, the total average charge per COVID-19 patient requiring a hospital stay is estimated at around $73,300, and the total average estimated in-network amount per insured patient is $38,221.

And these numbers represent the insured, but for people like Samantha, their uninsured costs are a completely different ballgame.

"When it shows up, that’s when I will find a bankruptcy attorney and go from there because I know that there’s no way I could ever pay $100,000 plus," says Ross.

Doctors we spoke with say because there sometimes can be a very significant out-of-pocket cost, it’s best to save yourself the pain and heartache and go get a free vaccination.

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