Here is Your COVID-19 Bill

This is an interesting story from The NY Times about a patient receiving a $400,000 bill. The whole piece is weird and I feel dirty just reading it. Unfortunately, manipulated media is all the rage right now. I have to look at any news piece with a jaundiced eye and try to see what their ulterior motive it. Imagine that? There is no NEUTRAL media source anymore. Everyone has an agenda politically. Or, they just want numbers so the story is clickbait.

In this piece, the author gets to rip on the hospital for billing the $400k. But that should be covered by the patient’s insurance or the government. Or. maybe not. Then they criticize all the vague bills, which is justified. Welcome to the lack of transparency in our broken healthcare system. Lastly, they criticize the doctors for their bills.

I guess their point was that this one patient should be an example of the tens of thousands who will be getting similar bills. And all I kept thinking was that we are ALL going to pay a lot for CV19. All the insurance companies will raise their rates again because they do that anyway and now they have a better excuse. Our taxes have to go up to pay these bills as well because the government’s money is our money.

In other words, the financial calamity is not over. There is a tsunami of debt coming. Boy, 2020 sucks.

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Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  9 comments for “Here is Your COVID-19 Bill

  1. Frank Rubino
    July 4, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    It is cheaper to wear a mask, wash frequently and socially distance ourselves. I asked a 20 y/o young man what he thought the hospital costs for corona virus treatment on a ventilator for a week. He said “$10,000?”. I said “no” . ” twenty times that amount”. I was wrong too.

  2. stuart
    June 30, 2020 at 9:36 am
  3. arf
    June 29, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    From the Wall Street Journal

    Covid Comparisons, Europe and U.S.
    The America-is-a-failure reporting has a heavy dose of partisanship.
    By The Editorial Board
    June 28, 2020 6:00 pm ET

    Scientists are studying why the coronavirus hasn’t had more of a resurgence in Europe after countries lifted their lockdowns while some U.S. states battle explosive outbreaks. But the epidemiologists in the media already know why: GOP Governors and President Trump ignored public-health guidelines and reopened too fast and too soon.

    “With Trump leading the way, record surge in new infections exposes failures in U.S. response,” the Washington Post wrote Sunday. Liberals are juxtaposing the U.S. with Europe, which ostensibly has the virus under control. The Trump Administration has sometimes been too sanguine, but much of this is partisan opportunism in an election year.

    Even with the latest outbreaks, the U.S. has recorded fewer deaths per 100,000 people (38) than the United Kingdom (66), Spain (61), Italy (57) and France (44). Death rates are a lagging indicator, but Arizona (21), Florida (15) and Texas (8) are still well below Europe. New York, which has opened up last and slowly, has a death rate per 100,000 of 161.

    The Southern U.S. states lifted their lockdowns gradually and at around the same time as most European countries. France reopened shops and schools on May 11 followed by restaurants, bars and cafes on June 2. Germany began reopening shops on April 20 and bars and restaurants on May 15. Italy let shops, bars and restaurants reopen on May 18. Europe started their lockdowns earlier so perhaps they did more to crush the virus curve before reopening, but southern U.S. states also had relatively few infections when they reopened.

    Some say the U.S. states didn’t wait long enough between the stages of reopening. But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott let restaurants and malls reopen at 25% capacity on May 1, and bars to do so on May 22. On June 11 he lifted the bar capacity limit to 50%. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis let restaurants and stores reopen May 4 at 25% capacity, which he raised to 50% on May 15. On June 5 he let bars open at 50% capacity but excluded Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties where there have been more cases.

    Arizona gave restaurants and stores the green light on May 11 provided they follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social-distancing and hygiene protocols. Yet hospitalizations and infections didn’t start surging in these states until a few weeks ago.

    Google’s mobility tracker shows that traffic to restaurants and retail businesses has increased more in Europe than U.S. hot spots. As of last week, retail traffic was down 6% in Germany, 11% in Italy, 12% in France from a January baseline. Retail traffic remained more depressed in Arizona (-20%), Florida (-20%) Texas (-15%) and Harris County around Houston (-14%).

    Mobility data also show Americans in hot spots are hunkering down at home more than Europeans, perhaps because of hotter weather. Large home gatherings could be contributing to spread but are hard for governments to limit. GOP Governors have been chastised for letting young people crowd bars, but European countries are struggling to corral their youth too.

    Earlier this month police broke up an illegal rave in Berlin with more than 3,000 young people. More than a 1,000 were caught at an illegal beach party near Lisbon last weekend. Thousands of Liverpool soccer fans partied in the streets this weekend after their club won the British Premier League.

    It’s too early to draw conclusions about long-term success or failure. Europe began reopening its internal borders two weeks ago, and infections may tick up once people travel more. Germany has had a spike in cases in the last week, albeit fewer than in the American South; many are tied to meatpacking plants as in the U.S. Midwest. It’s also possible that places where the virus spread widely in the spring have developed a degree of immunity that may mitigate against a resurgence.

    States are prudently pausing reopenings and boosting hospital capacity, but flare-ups are inevitable until there’s a vaccine or herd immunity. In any case the critics of reopening don’t offer much of an alternative beyond social-distancing, wearing masks and more testing. All three are important, and nearly all Governors agree even if they don’t mandate masks. Masks are mandatory in New York but in our experience aren’t enforced. A return to strict lockdowns isn’t sustainable economically or politically, as even Democratic Governors admit.

    No one has done everything right in this pandemic, and the America-is-a-failure reporting is as excessive as Donald Trump’s occasional claim that the pandemic will soon be over.

  4. Gary Pearce MD
    June 29, 2020 at 9:58 am

    Oh that public debt issue…….Nashville wants to raise property taxes 32%……as of 4/29/2020. New York has not issued any proposed increases- would 50% surprise anybody?
    I guess i will be forced in to an RV in retirement.

  5. PW
    June 29, 2020 at 9:50 am

    You think this is bad, just wait till the ambulance chasers start showing up.

  6. Gary Pearce MD
    June 29, 2020 at 9:36 am

    This is so funny I cannot get off the floor. Don’t medical bills normally take 60-90 days to process……and now with COVID delays, they may take years.
    Of course it may only the first to point that nasty finger of greed at the medical profession AGAIN.
    Correct if I am wrong, but any provider that accepted CARES ACT money is not permitted to charge for any COVID related expenses (and those generous insurance companies all pitched in alongside Trump and said they would cover deductibles and co-pays) ……I am out of network with most all insurances so i have never accepted those “free medical care” cards that patients have recently been showing up with- but we ALWAYS refund any monies later collected from insurance companies.
    As always, in good times and bad, there will be profiteers. My solo practice is seeing maybe 25% of normal patient volume- so many of my senior citixen patients are afraid to leave their homes. I’m hurtin’…

  7. Your friendly Peds Dr
    June 29, 2020 at 8:46 am

    I do agree our billing system is broken but we do have to Somehow pay for the ventilator/oxygen, medications, labs & yes even doctors costs (which are pretty minimal compared to nursing & pharmacy costs, in my experience). Last time I checked none of these were just given free to a hospital.

  8. Pat
    June 29, 2020 at 8:38 am

    We haven’t begun to see the bad financial effects. Had a long discussion with a buddy who works in a student health center at a major university. There are almost no students there, and revenues are already in the toilet. When the students arrive for the fall, the plan is to test each of the tens of thousands over the first 3 weeks – which will be a pointless cluster, designed only for show.

    My friend’s question: how many parents, themselves running up massive debt, making out their cards, will be interested in sending their kids to a school where they might be quarantined in their dorms, or sent home to learn online? All of the businesses in these college town will suffer, the universities will have budget cuts and layoffs, and state legislators will have to cut more. And this is just one small area of an interdependent economy too vast for the self-interested political-media cabal to grasp (hint: Jeff Bezos loves you – you’ll get a ‘Prime’ gift card for a smoked salmon this Christmas).

    The self-inflicted debt bomb we have built and swallowed just keeps growing – when does it explode?

    Now states are re-locking down, accomplishing zilch, while media dogs run breathlessly to every new “case spike” story as though they are happening in a vacuum. Because screaming retirees and politically motivated mayors in south Florida have cowed our governor, our friends who run our favorite bar in our rural north Fla town are again out of work (and our county has 4 total cases, none hospitalized).

    2020 does indeed suck, but we keep making it worse.

  9. stuart
    June 29, 2020 at 8:25 am

    As these things go, this article isn’t that bad.

    The take home message is that our medical billing system is a total shit show.

    It doesn’t benefit patients, it doesn’t benefit doctors, it doesn’t really benefit hospitals.

    But it sure does benefit insurance companies.

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