The average total cost of care for the sickest pneumonia patients comes to more than $20,000, according to a new analysis published by the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker. That could provide a rough sense of how much treatment for Covid-19 will cost for patients who are admitted to the hospital in the coming weeks.
Researchers reviewed historical data for patients with private insurance under the age of 65 who had been admitted to the hospital for pneumonia, breaking them down into three categories: those with pneumonia but no further complications; those with pneumonia and either complications or comorbidity (additional health problems such as diabetes or heart disease); and those with pneumonia and major complications. The total cost of treating the third group, shared by both insurers and patients, came to $20,292 on average.
Costs varied considerably in different parts of the country, however, ranging from $11,533 at the 25th percentile of cases to $24,178 at the 75th percentile.
The analysts also looked at out-of-pocket costs for patients, a complicated question given the wide variety of deductibles and copayment requirements in various health care plans. Boiling it all down, the analysts came up with a cost of about $1,300 for out-of-pocket expenses for the sickest patients.
“Medical costs are already a common concern in the U.S., particularly for people without insurance, those with high deductibles, and those in worse health,” the report says. “In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is of even greater concern, as many people could be incurring high out-of-pocket costs, at a time when there is also risk of a recession.”
Commenting on the analysis Monday, Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation noted that the “economic consequences for patients is a particularly American challenge.”