If you’ve wondered who’s paying for all the people hospitalized with COVID-19, the answer sometimes is — you.
A Seattle man who spent two months in the hospital battling COVID-19 just got a 181-page bill for $1.12 million for treatment of the virus. Michael Flor, 70, was admitted to Swedish Medical Center in Issaquah, Washington, on March 4 and spent 62 days in the facility before finally recovering and being discharged.
“Flor, 70, who came so close to death in the spring that a night-shift nurse held a phone to his ear while his wife and kids said their final goodbyes, is recovering nicely these days at his home in West Seattle. But he says his heart almost failed a second time when he got the bill from his health care odyssey the other day,” the Seattle Times reported. “I opened it and said ‘holy [bleep]!’ Flor says.”
The bill featured almost 3,000 itemized charges, an average of about 50 for each day of his hospital stay. He was billed $408,912 for 42 days in the intensive care room, which was equipped with a special isolation chamber, and $82,215 for ventilator use, which lasted 29 days.
“Just the charge for his room in the intensive care unit was billed at $9,736 per day,” The Times reported. “Due to the contagious nature of the virus, the room was sealed and could only be entered by medical workers wearing plastic suits and headgear. For 42 days he was in this isolation chamber, for a total charged…of $408,912.”
The Seattle Times reported that Flor’s condition grew very serious “for the two days when Flor’s heart, kidneys, and lungs were all failing and he was nearest death.” During that time, he received treatments by doctors for which he was billed nearly $100,000.
Because Flor is 70, he has Medicare, a federally funded health care program paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Plus, there are special financial rules enacted in place by Congress amid COVID-19. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, both approved in April, private health issuers and employer group health plans must “cover COVID-19 testing and services furnished during the pandemic, with no out-of-pocket expense.”
“As a result, Flor probably won’t have to pay even his Medicare Advantage policy’s out-of-pocket charges, which could have amounted to $6,000,” The Times wrote. “The insurance industry has estimated treatment costs just for COVID-19 could top $500 billion, however, so Congress is being asked to step up with more money.”
Still, the money’s got to come from somewhere, so check your wallet.
Flor told The Times he was surprised at his own reaction: guilt.
“I feel guilty about surviving,” he said. “There’s a sense of ‘why me?’ Why did I deserve all this? Looking at the incredible cost of it all definitely adds to that survivor’s guilt.”
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