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The cost of treating COVID-19 can get high for some

Posted at 7:00 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 20:13:19-04

WACO, TX — You can call it the revenge of the coronavirus.

It may have already cost you your job, or a better salary.

If you get COVID-19, there's another problem to worry about...how to pay for treatment.

Some people recovering from the coronavirus have racked up big bills.

Fortunately, there are some options when it comes to high COVID-19 costs.

Have you ever had a hospital bill that took forever to pay off?

Medical bills can pile up fast, especially when you’re very sick and doctors are doing everything they know to help get you well.

In the case of COVID-19, if you come down with the sickness, you might just get a case of shock when you get the bill.

It happened to Michael Flor in Washington State.

He survived the coronavirus but his bill which totaled more than one million dollars, sent him into a state of shock.

However, not all bills get so high.

Dr. Tim Martindale of Waco caught a bit of a break when he caught COVID-19.

"My illness was moderately severe, and I was sick for about a month, I missed a month of work. but I didn't have to go tgo the hospital or go on a ventilator so my costs were low," he said.

The more care you need, the more expensive it gets and hospital costs are notoriously high.

A hospital may charge you five dollars for aspirin because that also helps pay for the nurse that administers it and monitors your response.

COVID-19, unfortunately, needs a lot of monitoring, particularly when special equipment gets used.

"Those who do end up on a ventilator end up spending one or two weeks on a ventilator a long time so those bills can be quite astronomical," said Martindale.

Marindale says we're not helpless when it comes to hospital bills.

He says first make sure you get an itemized bill.

If you don't have insurance, let the hospital know.

Then, do some comparison shopping.

He says because insurance companies negotiate their prices, we can too.

"Find ways to pay a similar way to what Medicare or another insurance will pay. Make the hospital an offer, that they would always accept from the insurance company, therefore they should be willing to accept that from you," he advised.

In the case of COVID, the federal government pays some of the bill through the CARES Act.

Martindale says go over the rest of your bill with your doctor who can help you separate overcharges from normal and customary ones.

If you have insurance, the hospital and doctors can go back and forth on payments for months, but whatever insurance doesn't pay....we do.

Unfortunately, there aren't many charities that help people pay the huge leftover bills so for now we're on our own.

Just as COVID-19 hampered jobs and the economy, it can ruin personal finances.

That's why the best and cheapest route is to wear face masks, keep our social distance and follow those cleanliness guidelines.

After all, it’s a whole lot cheaper than a million dollar hospital bill.