Coronavirus may add billions to the nation’s health care bill: The New York Times

Filed Under: Costs, Health plans, Patients

“With so much still uncertain about how widespread hospitalizations for coronavirus patients will be around the United States, a new analysis says premiums could increase as much as 40 percent next year if the pandemic results in millions of Americans needing hospital stays,” Reed Abelson writes in The New York Times. “Health plans went into 2020 with no hint of coronavirus on the horizon,” said Peter V. Lee, the executive director of Covered California, the state insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act, which conducted the analysis. To protect businesses and individuals from sharply higher rates, he supports a temporary federal program that would cover some of these costs. ‘No insurer, no state, planned and put money away for something of this significance,’ Mr. Lee said. … Mr. Lee’s organization estimated the total cost to the commercial insurance market, which represents the coverage currently offered to 170 million workers and individuals through private health plans. The analysis does not include costs for people enrolled in government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Depending on how many people need care, insurers, employers and individuals could face anywhere from $34 billion to $251 billion in additional expenses from the testing and treatment of Covid-19, according to the analysis. At the high end, the virus would add 20 percent or more to current costs of roughly $1.2 trillion a year.” (The analysis notes that elective surgeries like hip replacements and other discretionary medical care may dip, so some insurers are not hasty to predict a rising total national health bill.) Reed Abelson, “Coronavirus may add billions to the nation’s health care bill,” The New York Times.