Are insurance companies waiving fees for COVID hospitalizations?

KFF study: 82% of insurance plans will stop waiving COVID hospitalization costs by October 2021.

SAN DIEGO — If you’re 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 waivers are coming to an end.

In November 2020, according to a KFF studya non-profit health policy analysis group.

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

“What that means for patients is that if you have a COVID-related hospital stay, you’re going to have to pay your deductible and coinsurance, which could be thousands of dollars,” said Cynthia Coxvice-president of KFF and co-author of the study.

According to Cox, one of the reasons health insurers were voluntarily waiving COVID hospitalization costs is to avoid a federal mandate from Congress.

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

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

Nationally – between June and August 2021 – 98.6% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 were unvaccinated, resulting in $5.7 billion in preventable hospital costs, according to a KFF study.

And those costs may 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 an additional $200 per month for health insurance.

“Some companies come out with a warrant that says ‘if you don’t get vaccinated, you’re fired, you lose your job.’ Other companies, like Delta, have taken a slightly softer approach where they say, ‘if you don’t get vaccinated, you can still keep your job, but you have to get tested regularly, and you also have to pay a higher premium each month for your health insurance,” Cox said.

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

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Kristan F. Talley