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How costly is hospitalization for COVID-19 for the uninsured?

As COVID cases surge nationwide, how much does it really cost when hospitalized for the virus?

According to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau, 19.2 percent of Tyler residents 65 years old and younger do not have health insurance. As hospital beds fill up in East Texas with positive COVID cases increasing, hospitalization creates quite the financial burden for the uninsured. 

One Love Longview serves the unsheltered, uninsured, and underserved community. Tina Rushing, Director of Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services says costly medical bills can lead some into poverty: 

“Often it leads to them maybe becoming unemployed because of their illness, which then the whole ball gets going leading to poverty. And then are they going to have a place to stay? Are they able to afford medications, then you have to pay electricity? What if you were paying for daycare for your kids or car insurance? So the cycle begins.”

Fair Health, an organization bringing transparency to health care costs, estimates the average cost of hospitalization for the virus is $73,300 for the uninsured. That’s about half what privately insured patients pay: $38,221. That number does not account for cost-sharing provisions of an individual’s plan. 

Amanda Veasy, Founder and Executive Director at One Love Longview says most people cannot afford emergency expenses, “Even with patients who do have a job or even work full-time, most of our population is one paycheck away from homelessness...one.”

On top of hospital bills, patients have to pay for medications that can be costly with or without insurance: 

 

“If you don't have insurance, it's a surprise when you walk into the pharmacy that can tell you you have $4 or they can tell you Oh $4,000. And it's embarrassing to walk into the pharmacy and not be able to pick up your prescription” says Veasy. 

One Love Longview does offer prescription coverage for those unable to afford it.