Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many medical practices are facing an increase in debt that cannot be collected. There are several factors that have been driving this. The costs associated with treating severe cases of coronavirus tend to be extremely high, and the pandemic has disproportionately impacted people with limited economic resources.
Therefore, many patients with severe cases of Covid-19 do not have health insurance, which can make medical billing difficult or even impossible. Here’s what you need to know about how the pandemic has led to an increase in unpaid medical bills:
1. Covid-19 has disproportionately affected workers without health insurance
Many patients with the virus contracted it at their job as an essential worker. Unfortunately, many of these positions are part-time, which means that they do not come with benefits. As a result, many patients are unable to pay their medical expenses after going through treatment, which puts a burden on the healthcare system.
Workers without health insurance often also earn very low wages, which makes it even harder for patients to cover their medical bills. In some cases, the medical bills could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
2. The cost of coronavirus treatment can be exceptionally high
Coronavirus cases can require long-lasting hospitalizations and extensive treatments, which can create a huge expense to patients. These treatments are often necessary in order to keep a patient with the disease from rapidly deteriorating. If a patient is unable to pay their medical bills, it can result in a large amount of uncollected debt for healthcare providers.
3. Severe coronavirus cases may cause long-term health problems
The long-term effects of the disease are still poorly understood. While most patients will make a full recovery, some severe cases of Covid-19 may result in severe, long-lasting health problems. These long-term health issues could lead to the accumulation of even more medical debt.
Furthermore, long-term health problems caused by coronavirus could put some individuals out of work. Many people with long-term disabilities will be unable to make payments on medical debt, which can lead to large amounts of uncollected medical debt for healthcare practices.
4. The burden of unpaid medical debt primarily falls on hospitals
Severe cases of coronavirus tend to be short-term illnesses that go on for a few weeks, and they are treated in the intensive care units of hospitals. Due to the fact that medical expenses associated with milder cases of coronavirus tend to be low, there is not likely to be significant unpaid medical debt as a result of these cases. Less intensive, lower-cost treatments are generally the type of care that is provided at doctor’s offices and urgent care centers.
5. Many hospitals need to purchase new equipment in order to effectively treat coronavirus patients
Many hospitals need to purchase new ventilators and other forms of medical equipment, which increases their overall level of expenses. Unpaid medical debt makes it harder for hospitals to have the funds that are needed to cover these costs. As a result, some facilities could be at risk of not having the right equipment to effectively treat patients if cases begin to surge, which could put the lives of patients in danger.
6. Unpaid medical debt can reduce quality of care and increase treatment costs for all patients
Due to the burden that’s placed on hospitals, unpaid medical debt can reduce the quality of care that patients are able to receive. Not only can this be detrimental to the finances of medical practices, but it can also result in patients receiving substandard care. This can result in an increased rate of serious complications from the virus, which can put patients’ lives at risk.
7. Government responses to the crisis can play an important role in mitigating the effects of unpaid medical debt
Government aid to hospitals and communities can help to reduce the burden of unpaid medical debt that the pandemic causes. This can help to ensure that hospitals are able to provide appropriate treatment, improve patient outcomes, and ultimately save lives. In addition, mask requirements, social distancing mandates, and other measures implemented to stop the spread of the virus can dramatically reduce the number of cases in an area. This can help to prevent the most serious impacts on the healthcare system.
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Also, check out our article on More Than Just Ventilators: The Medical Costs Associated with Coronavirus, how to, Tips That Can Help You Have a Thriving Practice During the Pandemic, 10 Things you Need to Know About the Coronavirus and Medicare, how to Successfully Outsource your Medical Billing.
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