California patient gets $42K bill after COVID-19 hospital stay

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Patricia Mason of Vacaville, Calif., and her husband are unsure of how they will address the $1.3 million bill she accrued after her nearly monthlong COVID-19 hospitalization, according to a Feb. 8 report from the Los Angeles Times.

The total amount Ms. Mason is responsible for is $42,184.20, the newspaper reported.

The insurance plan Ms. Mason shares with her husband is an employer-funded plan administered by Blue Shield of California. The Southern California Pipe Trades Health & Welfare Fund collects premiums and pays for care, but the plan does not have an out-of-pocket limit.

Many insurance companies began issuing waivers that excuse patients from paying for their COVID-19 care, but most employer-funded plans did not. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 61 percent of U.S. patients who get their insurance through their job are covered by employer-funded health plans that are not subject to out-of-pocket limits.

"I don’t have $42,000 to spare," Ms. Mason said. "We're at the point where we’re trying to make it through the next 15 years, so hopefully we can one day retire. I am lucky enough to be alive, so we take that into consideration. But the reality is I don’t have [the money]. It’s not going to happen."

 

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