In the worst-case coronavirus scenario, healthcare costs for the uninsured could reach $1.4 trillion
  • Uninsured Americans would owe the US healthcare system a collective $1.4 trillion in a worst-case scenario, according to a recent report by healthcare cost database FAIR Health.
  • That number is based on a high need for an inpatient stay with a high incidence rate — the $1.4 trillion is the average from that projection, so it could be even higher.
  • For comparison’s sake, that $1.4 trillion is nearly 70% of the size of the newly introduced $2.2 trillion stimulus bill. But most of the stimulus isn’t going directly to uninsured Americans.
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If the coronavirus pandemic becomes a worst-case scenario, healthcare costs in the US could exceed trillions of dollars.

That’s according to a recent report by healthcare cost database FAIR Health, which looked at the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the healthcare system. The analysis considered nearly 18 million people under age 65 who used employer health plan claims.

As seen in the chart below, the report looked at estimated total charges for COVID-19 patients requiring inpatient stays, both with and without insurance. It based these charges on whether that inpatient need was low or high (an estimated 4.9 million to 19.8 million) as well as on the incidence rate — the percentage of the US population infected (an estimated 66 million to 198 million).

To determine estimated total healthcare costs, FAIR Health multiplied the estimated numbers of patients with inpatient stay need by the estimated average costs per patient with COVID-19.

covid healthcare cost estimates with stimulus v2

The worst-case scenario for insured Americans is $558 billion in healthcare costs. For uninsured Americans, it’s $1.4 trillion.

Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

The best-case case scenario for insured Americans is that they’d collectively owe $139 billion, based on low hospitalization with a low incidence rate. In a worst-case scenario — high hospitalization with a high incidence rate — the insured population would owe $558 billion.

And it’s way worse for the 27 million Americans without insurance. Their best-case scenario — again, low hospitalization, low incidence rate — is that they’d owe a collective $362 billion. In a worst-case scenario, they’d owe $1.4 trillion.

That’s nearly 70% of the size of the historically massive, eye-popping $2.2 trillion stimulus passed into law late last week. The stimulus will send $1,200 checks to millions of Americans and will expand unemployment benefits by adding $600 per week to state benefits for up to four months, reported Joseph Zeballos-Roig for Business Insider.

Overall, an estimated $560 billion of the bill is allocated for individual Americans, according to NPR. But uninsured Americans are a fraction of those individuals, and if they have the coronavirus and are hospitalized, they may not see a penny from the stimulus if they have to pay off such big medical bills.

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