Washington (AFP) - A 70-year-old American man who nearly died of COVID-19 has been billed a heart-stopping $1.1 million for his hospital expenses, the Seattle Times reported Saturday.
Michael Flor was admitted to a hospital in the northwestern city on March 4, and stayed for 62 days -- at one point coming so close to death that nurses held up the phone so his wife and children could say goodbye.
But he recovered and was discharged on May 5 to the cheers of nursing staff -- only to receive a 181-page bill totalling $1,122,501.04, he told the newspaper.
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That includes: $9,736 per day for the intensive care room, nearly $409,000 for its transformation into a sterile room for 42 days, $82,000 for the use of a ventilator for 29 days, and nearly $100,000 for two days when his prognosis was life-threatening.
Flor is covered by Medicare, a government insurance program for the elderly, and should not have to take out his wallet, according to the Times.
But in a country where health care is among the most expensive in the world -- and the idea of socializing it remains hugely controversial -- he said he feels "guilty" knowing that taxpayers will bear much of the cost.
"It was a million bucks to save my life, and of course I'd say that's money well-spent ... But I also know I might be the only one saying that," the Times quoted him as saying.
A gigantic plan adopted by Congress to keep the American economy afloat through the coronavirus shutdowns includes a $100 million budget to compensate hospitals and private insurance companies that treated COVID-19 patients.