Hospitalization charges for COVID-19 patients could top $1.4 trillion

The total charges for hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the U.S. could reach as high as $1.45 trillion, according to a new analysis published March 25. 

The study, published by independent nonprofit Fair Health, uses incidence estimates from public health experts as well as historical charges from flu and pneumonia codes to project the economic cost of the pandemic on the U.S. health system.

Fair Health said its analysis is based on its expectation that 66 million to 198 million people in the U.S. may become infected with the novel coronavirus and that about 4.9 million to 19.8 million may need inpatient care. 

Here are four key findings:

1. The total charges to treat COVID-19 in hospitals is expected to range from at least $362 billion to as high as $1.45 trillion, according to Fair Health.

2. Although hospital charges could top $1.4 trillion, providers would be reimbursed a much smaller amount from insurers, according to Fair Health. For example, if charges hit $1.45 trillion, insurers would reimburse hospitals a lower $558 billion, based on Fair Health's analysis of inpatient ICD-10 codes for flu and pneumonia.

3. In addition, if the charges were in the lower $362 billion range, insurers would reimburse hospitals $139 billion.

4. The average charge for a COVID-19 inpatient is $73,300, according to the report. However, the amount a commercial insurer would give back to hospitals is $38,221. 

Access the full report here.

More articles on healthcare finance: 
Pennsylvania hospital needs $40M or it will close April 1
Hospitals face financial fallout from COVID-19: 6 things to know
West Virginia hospital closes despite pleas to stay open during COVID-19 outbreak

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