COVID Patients Should Be Shielded From Bulk Of Medical Expenses But Some Are Still Getting Bills
After getting lifesaving treatment for COVID-19, some patients are being sent eye-popping medical bills. While the hospitals and insurers say that is a mistake, the confusion over costs in the midst of the pandemic persists. In other health industry news: hospitals' survival and payments.
The New York Times:
She Survived The Coronavirus. Then She Got A $400,000 Medical Bill.
Janet Mendez started receiving bills soon after returning in April to her mother’s home from Mount Sinai Morningside hospital, where she nearly died of Covid-19. First, there was one for $31,165. Unable to work and finding it difficult to walk, Ms. Mendez decided to put the bill out of her mind and focus on her recovery. The next one was impossible to ignore: an invoice for $401,885.57, although it noted that the hospital would reduce the bill by $326,851.63 as a “financial assistance benefit.” But that still left a tab of more than $75,000. “Oh my God, how am I going to pay all this money?” Ms. Mendez, 33, recalled thinking. The answer came to her in about a second: “I’m not going to be able to pay all this.” (Goldstein, 6/14)
How America’s Hospitals Survived The First Wave Of The Coronavirus
The prediction from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was grim. In late March, as the number of COVID-19 cases was growing exponentially in the state, Cuomo said New York hospitals might need twice as many beds as they normally have. Otherwise there could be no space to treat patients seriously ill with the new coronavirus. “We have 53,000 hospital beds available,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said at a briefing on March 22. “Right now, the curve suggests we could need 110,000 hospital beds, and that is an obvious problem and that’s what we’re dealing with.” (Ornstein, 6/15)
Insurers Create Temporary Population-Based Payment Models
Some health insurers have offered physicians and hospitals in their networks a temporary source of population-based payments to ensure they keep their doors open during the COVID-19 crisis. But some groups are calling for more permanent measures. Inland Empire Health Plan, based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., said it would fill gaps in hospitals’ revenue and bolster specialists’ payments for three months. Similarly, Buffalo, N.Y.-based Independent Health stepped up value-based payments by giving primary-care practices an emergency global payment to help them maintain a monthly cash flow resembling pre-pandemic levels. (Livingston, 6/13)
COVID-19 May End Up Boosting Value-Based Payment
Almost overnight, Dr. Fuad Sheriff’s small primary-care practice in Amherst, N.Y., was thrust into unknown territory. Like hospitals and other medical practices across the country, his practice saw patient visits screech to a halt as the COVID-19 crisis forced restrictions on nonurgent services. So too, did a big chunk of the income that sustains Sheriff’s practice, Amherst Medical Associates. (Livingston, 6/13)