The costs of COVID-19-related care that was provided to Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries between April 2020 and December 2020 totaled $6.3 billion, according to researchers.

“Treatment after COVID-19 diagnosis is not free; payment is shared by patients, insurance payers and health care providers, and the amount for which each stakeholder is responsible depends on the patient’s insurance status and coverage,” Yuping Tsai, PhD, a health economist at the CDC, and colleagues wrote in Annals of Internal Medicine. “Knowledge of the direct medical costs of COVID-19 treatments is limited.” 

Tsai and colleagues conducted a retrospective observational study using medical claims of 1,181,127 Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries (57% women; 79.6% non-Hispanic white; 77.2% resided in an urban county) who had a COVID-19-related medical encounter from April 2020 through December 2020.

According to the researchers, 92.6% of the total $6.3 billion costs of COVID-19-related care were for hospitalizations. Overall, patients had a mean hospital stay of 9.2 days and a mean hospitalization cost of $21,752. Among patients who required a ventilator, the mean length of stay was 17.1 days, and the mean hospitalization cost was $49,441. Among patients who died, the mean length of stay was 11.3 days, and the mean hospitalization cost was $32,015. Outpatient visits had a mean cost of $164.

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