Covid’s Financial Cost & Healthcare Privilege

Blog By Joe Babaian

It’s been five months since my inpatient stay for COVID-19 and the associated COVID pneumonia. Sometimes, I can’t even fathom that the experience was real and other times, when I review the ongoing financial cleanup and monthly medications, it becomes all too real.

This week on #hcldr I hope to spark the needed conversation on the reality that all parts of the healthcare system are ripe for redesign and innovation that lead to more access, lower costs, and better outcomes. From my personal experience I have understood how much privilege and ZIP code played into my recovery even as significant burdens remain. The financial toxicity of being sick in America is an equal-opportunity outcome that impacts all of us.

With my opportunity to be interviewed by Charlotte Morabito @MorabitoCM from @CNBC last month, I was able to more clearly see how widespread this issue is. If you haven’t taken a look, Charlotte spoke to me and others about “The reality of Covid treatment costs in the U.S. — ‘It keeps on digging that financial hole’”

We all know the mechanics of healthcare payments from deductibles to co-pays, maximum out-of-pocket to out-of-network. Regardless of the type of coverage you have (or don’t), from Cadillac plans to Medicaid, no one leaves the process of treatment unmarked. No one. Degree of impact definitely varies from person-to-person and within types of coverage.

For my case, my $2k in-network annual deductible and $6k maximum out-of-pocket was effectively doubled since I was first admitted in December 2020. I came home that same month and then the after-care started in earnest in January 2021 – an entirely new benefit year. The date of the illness itself greatly impacted the financial side of things. It’s humbling for me to know that even with my privilege of strong coverage and resources, this burden is significant. What does that mean for millions with lower or no coverage and less privilege? I think we all know the answer to that.

Please join the #hcldr community of friends, peers, and collaborators as we work to make a difference, one idea and one action at a time. Join us on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at 8:30pm Eastern as we discuss the following topics:

T1: How has the financial toxicity of healthcare impacted you and your family?

T2: What are some realistic near-term solutions that we should be working on?

T3: “Fixing” healthcare has to be at scale. What does this mean for solutions we propose?

T4: Being part of a society means (or should mean) we take care of each other – how have we strayed from that mantra and how can we get back?

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

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