Nearly 75% of insurance companies now charging co-pays, fees for COVID-19 hospitalizations

ATLANTA — More than just a health risk, a COVID-19 hospitalization will now cost you more financially, compared to earlier in the pandemic.

Researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation found that last year, 88% of the country’s major insurers voluntarily waived out of pocket costs for COVID-19 hospitalizations.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

But that has changed dramatically. Now, 72% of those health insurers are instead charging patients for those co-pays and fees.

“People who are hospitalized with COVID 19, most of which are preventable with the free vaccines, will face out of pocket costs, Krutika Amin from Kaiser Family Foundation said.

And those costs can add up quickly.

The average COVID-19 hospital stay runs more than $20,000.

The patient’s portion of that, after insurance pays, is still estimated to be about $1300.

TRENDING STORIES:

Rick Hooks showed us stacks and stacks of his medical bills. He says it is now more than $1 million in charges and he still doesn’t know his share of it. He also continues to rack up medical costs for oxygen and rehab, more than a year after Channel 2 Action News first interviewed him from his COVID-19 hospital bed.

“Oh, it’s expensive to get COVID, make no mistake about it. It’s big business,” Hooks said.

With a 127-day hospital stay, and even with private insurance and additional coverage from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Hooks still is facing a major financial challenge

“What do I do I just shake my head, because I know God is going to find a way,” Hooks said.

Researchers found that in June and July alone, hospital bills for unvaccinated COVID-19 patients added up to more than $2 billion.

Hooks hopes people who hear his story get the vaccine.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

“You don’t want to be in that ICU fighting for your life,” Hooks said.

The two largest health insurers in Georgia, Kaiser Permanente and Blue Cross Blue Shield, have both stopped providing waivers for COVID-19 hospitalization costs.

IN OTHER NEWS: