The deluge of severe COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated people requiring treatment in hospitals is estimated to have cost the U.S. healthcare system about $5.7 billion since the start of the summer.
Unvaccinated people accounted for 98% of COVID-related hospitalizations from June through August, costing billions of dollars, according to “conservative estimates of costs” from the Kaiser Family Foundation. KFF came up with the estimate using federal data that shows the average Medicare fee-for-service costs for treating COVID-19 in hospitals at about $24,033.
The organization cited another analysis of private insurance claims for pneumonia hospitalizations filed before the pandemic began, showing that cost reached nearly $20,300.
In June, about $600 million was spent caring for those who are unvaccinated despite widespread access. In July, that figure grew by $1.4 billion and by another $3.7 billion in August. More than 25,400 COVID-19 patients on average were treated in hospital ICUs over the past seven days, according to tracking maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
About 81% of ICU beds are now occupied by coronavirus patients, and roughly 44,000 patients are being treated for conditions other than COVID-19.
The rapid spread of the delta variant exacerbated the massive and avoidable financial burden on patients, taxpayer-funded public health programs, and private insurance premiums paid by workers, businesses, and individual purchasers. The strain is estimated to be 40%-60% more transmissible than the alpha variant and nearly twice as transmissible as the original strain that initiated the pandemic in 2020.
The South has recorded the highest density hospitalizations in the United States, though rates appear to have turned a corner. In Florida, hospitalizations have declined about 28% over the past two weeks, falling to about 52 patients per 100,000 people, tracking from the New York Times shows. Still, hospitals in southern states are straining to cope with the record numbers of people being admitted with severe symptoms of the disease.
Now, northwestern states — including Idaho, Montana, and Washington — are feeling the crunch of caring for unvaccinated patients. In Idaho, hospitals have become so overwhelmed the whole state has moved to “crisis standards of care,” which authorizes the hospital to allocate scarce resources such as intensive care unit beds and ventilators to patients most likely to recover. This may result in less-than-optimal care for patients admitted for noncoronavirus reasons. Of the roughly 200 ICU beds in Idaho, roughly 11 were open as of Sept. 9, according to the Idaho Division of Public Health.
More than 211 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine to date, accounting for about 64% of people 16 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, some 80 million people remain unvaccinated as of Sept. 9.
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Original Author: Cassidy Morrison