TULSA, Okla. — A COVID-19 hospitalization can be devastating for a patient, their family, their insurance provider, and a patient's bank account.
Figuring out an exact cost of a hospital stay is tricky.
For those with health insurance, the price of a hospital stay for COVID care is going to depend on the type of plan they have.
Mitch Wilburn says he was diagnosed with COVID last October, and he thought he would only be in the hospital for a few days, but instead, he spent weeks fighting for his life.
"I ended up being there for 48 days, was vented twice, and made it through both by the grace of God," Wilburn says.
"Code blue, flatlined, all of that and just our Lord working through some great medical professionals, I am here today."
His wife Shannon also contracted the virus around the same time.
“I had lost my sense of taste and I had drunk my coffee in the morning, and I was like, 'uh oh' because it didn’t taste right. I went to get tested and sure enough, I had it and over the next 14 days it was just horrible," Shannon says.
Early on in their ordeal, she says she started thinking about what the costs were going to be.
Thankfully, the Wilburns survived COVID but once they were back home, the medical bills began pouring in.
"Our bill was at about half a million dollars, and so 48 days, you’re at $10,000 a day," Mitch Wilburn says.
"We thankfully have wonderful insurance and are by no means responsible for most of that cost, but I can’t imagine folks who have to deal with those costs on their own."
We sat down with Hillcrest Hospital South CEO Bennett Geister to help paint a clearer picture of what someone's COVID hospital costs could look like.
"If you are on higher deductible insurance product, you are probably going to be paying a significant amount out of pocket, and sometimes that can be $5,000 sometimes up to $10,000 upfront for the cost of your care," Geister says.
"If you have a lower out-of-pocket amount then you pay less but you are paying more in your bi-weekly premium or your monthly premium, whatever arrangement you have with your insurance company."
While Mitch Wilburn's case was extreme, Geister says the average hospital stay for a COVID patient is anywhere from seven to 10 days.
"There is a lot of cost; at a minimum you’ve got an opportunity cost," Geister says.
"You lose time, you lose relationships, in some cases, you are losing PTO if you are a working person."
The Wilburns' cost was roughly $10,000 a day and they have insurance.
“Our bill was $525,000 and 99 percent of that was covered," Shannon Wilburn says.
According to Fair Health, 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.
“There is potentially a very significant out-of-pocket cost so save yourself if nothing else from self-interest perspectives and save yourself that pain and go get a free vaccination," Geister says.
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