I was recently asked to contribute to a GoFundMe page to help someone with medical expenses from their recent COVID hospitalization. And I absolutely will.

That said, this doesn’t get talked about much — the COST of this mess.

I’m not even talking here about the macro effect on GDP, mental illness, loss of life, or long-term health impact (see below)…this is just the personal bank discussion.

It’s not enough that this country spends over twice the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare as any other developed country. Add to that, our health outcomes are worse than ALL of them.

Summary: We spend way more. We get less for it. We are NOT healthier.

  • The U.S. spends more on health care, yet has the lowest life expectancy and highest suicide rates among the 11 “wealthiest” countries.*
  • The U.S. has the HIGHEST chronic disease burden and an obesity rate that is two times higher than the OECD average.*
  • Compared to developed countries, the U.S. has among the HIGHEST number of hospitalizations from PREVENTABLE causes and the HIGHEST rate of AVOIDABLE deaths.*
  • We see the doctor much less and we have fewer of them than any other country.*
Courtesy: Visual Capitalist

We have incredible potential, immense resources, and life-changing technology. But we aren’t using it well, and too many of those truly benefiting are known more by their ticker symbol than their overall impact on population health outcomes. The reality is, we have much work to do on the economics and inequities in healthcare. But, as bad as that is, we are losing lives. That cost can’t be replaced.

…people will wait 45 minutes at Chick-fil-A for 8 nuggets and a sweet tea that costs $8, but damned if they will wait for a harmless pinprick that is free and might save lives…including their own.

Back to GoFundMe.

The average hospitalization for a COVID admission in North Carolina (no, not one of those “Oh, something else was wrong with them and they called it COVID in the hospital” myths) is around $45,000. That’s for those that DO NOT require “complex” care such as ventilation or a stay in ICU. It can go up to $235,000.00 for those needing ICU, ventilation, and more complex care.** For a while, insurance companies were waiving co-pays and deductibles. How kind. Trust me, it will come back around in rates one day. Take a look at that again. Some will be hit for a 1/4MM? Many are uninsured or underinsured. They could spend their life paying it off…if they even consider it.

Now, the average cost for a vaccine is…$00.00.

Of course, that doesn’t account for the inconvenience costs of waiting in line or missing a Fantasy Football party. It’s amazing, people will wait 45 minutes at Chick-fil-A for 8 nuggets and a sweet tea that costs $8, but damned if they will wait for a harmless pinprick that is free and might save lives…including their own.

This isn’t an attempt to pick a fight or criticize the My Body, My Right Freedom movement. You have your own truth and convictions. Please, just take some time to look at all of the perspectives and the costs and ask, “Is it worth it?”. Pun intended.

We can do better. We must. Thanks for at least thinking about it.

*Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
** Source: Fair Health, FH Total Treatment Cost COVID-19 benchmarks as cited in Becker’s Hospital Review, Oct 2021

One thought on “The Cost of Un-Care

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