A 70-year old Seattle man who entered an Issaquah, Washington hospital two months ago is considered the longest-hospitalized COVID-19 patient in the US after he fought through the disease, against all expectations coming out healthy despite what were considered multiple near death moments. While Michael Flor's survival story was celebrated by local and national media upon his recent discharge, and cheered by medical staff, a new kind of shock awaited.
He was constantly attended to by nurses and doctors throughout the ordeal, at the end of which he was jokingly dubbed by staff “the miracle child”. He entered the hospital on March 4th, and had spent four weeks on a ventilator.
But The Seattle Times details that his health nearly took another blow upon exiting the hospital and seeing the whopping bill of over one million dollars.
The report begins:
But he says his heart almost failed a second time when he got the bill from his health care odyssey the other day.
“I opened it and said ‘holy [bleep]!’“ Flor says.
The total tab for his bout with the coronavirus: $1.1 million. $1,122,501.04, to be exact. All in one bill that’s more like a book because it runs to 181 pages.
In all the nearly 200-page bill included 3,000 separate itemized charges, at a rate of about 50 per day, in what is likely a record for Seattle hospital system, Swedish.
It gives a sense of what many thousands of other medium to long-term infected patients may be facing upon discharge, at a moment confirmed COVID-19 cases has surpassed two million in the US, and as hospitalizations once again surge in some states.
The example of Flor also underscores the outrageous, often contradictory and unnecessarily complicated, as well as opaque system of medical billing in America. Thankfully for him though, most of the massive bill is actually covered via insurance, including Medicare, but doesn't mean that much of the whopping cost won't be passed on to someone.
"Flor said he’s hyper-aware that somebody is paying his million-dollar bill — taxpayers, other insurance customers and so on," Seattle Times notes.
From the report, here's a small taste of the mounting costs:
- Intensive care unit room per day: $9,736
- 42 days of intensive care room having to be "sealed" over virus contamination fears: a total of $408,912
- 29 days on a ventilator: $2,835 per day, totaling $82,215
- 2 days where a medical team implemented multiple emergency interventions: $100,000
- Total bill: $1,122,501.04
In the end Flor is of course happy to be alive but also feels "guilty" in seeing the huge extent of costly medical intervention and effort.
“It was a million bucks to save my life, and of course I’d say that’s money well-spent,” he told Seattle Times. “But I also know I might be the only one saying that.”