“Thousands of people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 in the past year, and generally, most patients haven’t had to pay out of pocket for these costs,” Caroline Tien writes over at verywellhealth.com. “Government programs and insurance companies have largely borne the brunt of the cost. But that might be changing. Researchers at the University of Michigan and Boston University suggest in a new study that a subset of people hospitalized for severe COVID-19 in 2021 may owe almost $1,000 or more in out-of-pocket expenses as public and private health insurance companies begin to phase out cost-sharing waivers. Put simply, the waivers enable insured patients to receive medical care for SARS-CoV-2 infection or related complications at no additional cost to them in the form of copays, deductibles, or coinsurance. Issued en masse at the beginning of the pandemic as companies scrambled to adjust their policies to the circumstances, many such waivers are nearing or have already passed their original expiry date. The researchers, Kao-Ping Chua, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School, and Rena Conti, PhD, associate professor of markets, public policy, and law at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, argue that federal policymakers should pass legislation preventing the waivers from being entirely retired.” Caroline Lien, “As Insurers End COVID-19 Grace Period, Patients Can Expect Hospital Bills,” verywellhealth.com.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded ClearHealthCosts.
She was previously a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism. ClearHealthCosts has won grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York; the International Women’s Media Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles; the Lenfest Foundation in Philadelphia for a partnership with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and the New York State Health Foundation for a partnership with WNYC public radio/Gothamist in New York; and other honors.
Her TED talk about fixing health costs has surpassed 2 million views.