With the current COVID-19 surge not expected to peak until mid-October, treatments for the deadly virus are set to cost much more for those infected.
Michigan's large health insurers—including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Priority Health—are sunsetting their programs that waived all costs to patients treated for COVID-19.
The waiving of cost-sharing for patients expires on Sept. 30 for the two insurers.
More than 2 million Americans have checked into hospitals to get treated for severe cases of COVID-19 and many, thanks to insurers and government programs, have received no bills in the mail.
The cost for treating COVID-19 varies greatly, depending on severity. But after Oct. 1, Michiganders who contract COVID-19 and seek treatment will face co-pays and treatment bills.
Nationally, COVID-19 treatments performed in an outpatient setting cost an average between $500 and $1,000, according to a February report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
Insured individuals generally cover 30 percent of medical bills out of pocket, meaning those patients would be charged roughly $150 to $300.
However, costs rise exponentially for COVID-19 patients hospitalized or placed in the intensive care unit.
Total costs on average for treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is $22,500 to $45,000, according to the Blue Cross study. That mean patients could see bills as high as $13,500.
For patients requiring treatment in the ICU, total costs average $56,250 to $112,500. Patients could see bills as high $33,750 for COVID-19 ICU treatments.
The move is part returning to regular course of business for the insurers and part pushing the costs on to those the virus preys on—the unvaccinated.
Hospitalizations are doubling every 10 days in the state—there were more than 700 hospitalized with COVID-19 in Michigan on Aug. 8, according to state data—and the majority of those are unvaccinated.
"The vaccines have proven to be extremely effective at preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and severe illness or death," Grand Rapids-based Priority Health said in a statement to Crain's. "We will continue to offer the vaccine at $0 to all members, as we believe getting vaccinated is the most effective way for our members to keep themselves, their families, and their community safe."
U.S. health officials on Wednesday recommended all Americans get COVID-19 booster shots to shore up their protection amid the surging delta variant of the coronavirus and evidence that the vaccines' effectiveness is falling. The doses could begin the week of Sept. 20.
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain's Detroit Business.