COVID-19 hospitalizations are getting more expensive for patients

Coronavirus patients who end up hospitalized — the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated — are increasingly likely to be on the hook for their medical bills, according to a new KFF analysis.

Where it stands: Early in the pandemic, most insurers waived out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus hospitalizations.

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But with vaccines readily available, many patients are once again on the hook for deductibles and co-pays, which could make remaining unvaccinated a lot more expensive.

By the numbers: KFF surveyed the two largest insurers in each state and the District of Columbia, and found that 72% of them had stopped waiving cost-sharing requirements for coronavirus treatment as of this month.

In the first half of the year, about a third of employers offering health benefits said their largest available plan waived cost-sharing obligations for COVID treatment.

Between the lines: The typical deductible in an employer health plan is $1,644, per KFF, and hospitalization for coronavirus treatment could amount to around $1,300 in out-of-pocket costs.

What we’re watching: Vaccinated people rarely need to be hospitalized, even if they contract the virus, at least according to data that’s been published so far.

Even if that changes, part of the reason insurers initially waived out-of-pocket treatment costs was because they were paying out less than they expected to in medical claims.

Unless people once again stop seeking care like they did in spring 2020, it seems unlikely that insurers will reverse course.

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