Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the unvaccinated: Insurers ending coverage for Covid hospitalizations for people who are not vaccinated

Filed Under: Costs

Emergency

“With highly effective coronavirus vaccines available and hospital admissions soaring, many Covid-19 patients are facing bigger bills as most insurance companies have ended waivers on out-of-pocket costs that they introduced earlier in the pandemic, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a cost that will be primarily borne by the unvaccinated people more likely to require hospital treatment,” Robert Hart writes over at Forbes. “Earlier in the pandemic, the vast majority of private health insurers voluntarily waived out-of-pocket costs for Covid-19 treatment, meaning some 88% of people with insurance coverage would have paid nothing if hospitalized. With no federal mandate requiring insurers to waive these costs, few regulations requiring them to do so at the state level and the wide availability of effective vaccines, the majority have now passed these costs back to patients, according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Of the two largest health plans in each state and Washington, D.C., nearly three-quarters (72%) are now passing out-of-pocket costs—including copays and payments towards deductibles—for Covid-19 treatment back to patients, KFF found. The 102 providers studied represent 62% of enrollment across fully insured individual and group markets, KFF said. Almost half of the insurers studied had terminated waivers by April, roughly the time all adults in the country became eligible for a vaccine, and the majority of those still eating the costs—nearly a quarter of the the insurers studied—intend to stop by the end of the year. Of the remainder, two plans (around 2% of the total) have waivers set to expire by March 2022 and just five (around 5%) do not specify when waivers will expire.” The original KFF study is here. Robert Hart, “The cost of being unvaccinated just went up,” Forbes.