Patient cost for COVID treatments about to rise for some

An ICU stay is not cheap, but some have been lucky enough that their COVID treatment has been covered 100%. As KSL Investigator Matt Gephardt found out, that’s about to change. (KSL-TV)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — As of Aug. 31, 485 people are currently hospitalized in Utah, battling COVID-19.

All those hospital stays are not cheap.

Starting Sept. 1, some patients may find themselves having to pay more than expected, as insurance companies stop paying 100% of the cost of COVID-19 treatments.

Cass Ho was hospitalized with COVID-19 in May 2020, when the pandemic was still new and hospitals were not yet over capacity with ICU patients. "It was a really rough go," Ho said. "I was in critical condition, and I ended up being on a ventilator and probably very close to death."

Ho said she was in the ICU for two weeks, nine days of which she was intubated and in a coma. "Fortunately, I was able to pull out of it, some way, somehow," she said.

As she began healing at home, the bills began arriving. "I've gotten bill after bill after bill," she exclaimed. "They came in pages and pages."

Overall, Ho estimates her ICU stay cost about $125,000. "I know my doctor was $550 a day, and then there was all the medications, all the care from the nurses that came in," she said. "They charge for everything. Every pill, every shot… all the oxygen. I was on a ventilator. The ventilators are extremely expensive."

Good news for Ho, she did not have to pay a dime out of pocket. What her Medicare plan did not cover, her supplemental insurance did.

Ho said it was a relief to have that burden off her shoulders while she recovers from the effects of COVID-19.

"It plays a huge role in the recovery of yourself," she said. "Because if you have a financial obligation, and you're insured, even if it's 80%, you are still stuck with that bill. And if you are in a bad way, and you are on a ventilator and you are in the ICU, you're looking at a six-figure bill."

Matt Gephardt
Cindy St. Clair

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