Hospital bills are all over the spectrum depending on the details of a specific visit: the age of the patients, underlying conditions, equipment used, how long they stay in the hospital, and the health insurance they have. However, there is a ballpark figure of the average stay.
Doctors and medical professionals have said all year that the vaccine or monoclonal antibody treatments are way cheaper than a visit to the emergency room.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, posted online, “the average hospital stay for a case of COVID-19 costs about $17,064. The vaccine is free.”
Politifact looked into it and rated it “mostly true.”
“When we talked to experts for this fact check, they were really adamant there’s not one price you can count on,” said Katie Sanders, the managing editor of Politifact.
Since many hospital bills are private, fact checkers rely on watchdog groups like the non-profit FAIR Health, which like into COVID costs from the first half of 2020. This is where the representative got the $17,064 figure. That cost is even on the low end, representing the cost for someone 70 years older and up according to the report. It goes up if the patient is younger. Also, this is for what’s called the “allowed amount,” which is the cost after insurance negotiates the price down.
That is in the range for another source from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which looked into the issue in August of 2021. They pegged the average COVID hospital visit at around $20,000 by compiling Medicare data.
“The estimates for different age ranges were really all over the place but a spokesperson for Representative Jayapal said she was actually using something on the low end to be safe in her comparison to the free vaccine,” said Sanders.
Remember the patients might not be paying all that $17,000 specifically. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports the out-of-pocket average for a trip to the hospital is around $1,600. Many predict the huge load of medical care coming with the pandemic will lead to higher deductibles and premiums in the years ahead.