COVID-19 infections leave some survivors with big medical bills
Updated 06:05, 02-Jun-2021

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Many Americans are facing financial woes after getting treated for the coronavirus.

Some have faced enormous medical charges, including some hospital bills up to $3.4 million.

Federal law has ensured that COVID-19 tests and vaccines are free -- but those protections did not extend to treatment for the virus.

Many large health plans wrote special rules that would wave copays and deductibles for COVID-19 hospitalizations. After hospitals accepted bailout funds, Congress barred them from “balance-billing” patients, a practice of seeking additional payment beyond what the insurer paid, the New York Times reports.  

However, the mixed response from Congress means that some states are murky on who foots what part of a bill.

More often than not, it falls on the patient.  

The U.S. has spent more than $30 billion on coronavirus hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic, the New York Times reported citing Chris Sloan, of the health research firm Avalere.

Singer Irena Schulz, who got the virus last summer, was left with lingering symptoms, CNN reports. The treatment left her with nearly $10,000 in credit card debt for medical bills.

More than 33 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

A study from the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation from 2020 calculated the costs for COVID-19 treatment. 

Utilizing data for pneumonia treatment, the study predicted that people with private insurance who became seriously ill could face a cost of $1,300 out of pocket.

Patients who needed to use ventilators were also more likely to have ballooning bills.

COVID long-haulers -- people who continue to suffer from the symptoms from the virus -- are also dealing with major medical expenses.

Exorbitant charges have forced many to postpone additional medical care until they resolve their current financial issues. Some are required to visit multiple specialists and undergo scans, adding more debt.

Democratic Sen. Tina Smith from Minnesota has introduced legislation, The COVID-19 Treatment Coverage Act, that would address unexpected bills for people that got sick.

But it is still awaiting review by the Senate's health committee.

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