September 24, 2021

The CDC tell us that 60 million adults remain unvaccinated.  The reasons vary.  Some worry that the vaccine has not been sufficiently tested.  Others are concerned about side effects.  Some do not trust the government.  Others simply do not want it.  Hospitals tell us that 90% of the patients admitted to their emergency rooms are unvaccinated.  Without the shot you are clearly at risk.  If you get it, be prepared to accept the consequences.

It could be that if you get it you are one of the lucky ones who only suffers mild symptoms.

But many others will not be so fortunate and may end up in the hospital.   If so, your hospital stay is likely to cost you $20,000 if you have insurance and far more if you do not.  Your decision to remain unvaccinated is risky from a health standpoint, and from a financial standpoint.

Estimating the cost of your COVID-related hospital stay is difficult.  It depends upon the length of your stay and your age.  Did you end up in the ICU?  Did you require a ventilator?  Numerous studies have been done by respected organizations such as the Kaiser Family Foundation, FAIR Health, and Healthcare Finance News.  They all have one thing in common.  Under the best of circumstances, with insurance, you can expect to pay at least $20,000 if you end up in the hospital.

When COVID first began to spread last year and no vaccines were available, insurers felt an obligation to foot the entire bill and waived the entire amount.  But with highly effective vaccines now widely available, insurers believe that COVID is “preventable” and they are not feeling so generous.  Peterson-KFF recently surveyed 102 of the largest health plans and found that 73 are no longer waiving out-of-pocket costs for COVID treatment.  Waivers for another 10 plan will expire by the end of October, and almost all of the remainder will expire by yearend.  You are going to pay a large portion of the bill.

FAIR Health determined that in September the average amount charged for a general COVID hospitalization was $74,591.  This is the undiscounted fee which an uninsured patient may have to pay.   The average allowed amount was $33,525.  This is the total amount paid by some combination of the health care plan and the patient.  Because COVID has been deemed to be preventable you are going to be asked to pay a large amount of this bill.  Most of those studies estimate your share at about $20,000 for a general COVID hospital stay.

If complications arise the comparable average amount charged climbs to $317,810.  The average allowed amount becomes $98,139.  In this case your payment will far exceed $20,000.

If you remain unvaccinated be aware that the Delta variant feeds almost exclusively on unvaccinated people.  You are a prime target.  You are potentially betting your life.

If your contract COVID you might be lucky and have minor symptoms.  But you also might not be so fortunate.  In that case your decision to remain unvaccinated will come with a substantial financial penalty as well.  Are you willing to bet your family’s financial health?

A bad decision could cost you your life.  If you are lucky and do not die it will cost you at least $20,000 if you end up in the hospital.  Those are pretty high stakes and the odds are not in your favor.

A vaccine is free.  You decide.

Stephen Slifer


Charleston S.C.