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Uninsured Massachusetts woman receives a whopping $34,927.23 bill for COVID-19 treatment

The medical bill she received a few days later after returning home was as devastating as the virus itself.

Uninsured Massachusetts woman receives a whopping $34,927.23 bill for COVID-19 treatment
Cover Image Source: (L): Getty Images (representative), (R): Twitter/Danni Askini

When Danni Askini first began experiencing sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, and migraine in late February, she immediately called up her oncologist who'd been treating her lymphoma. Suspecting the symptoms to be a poor reaction to a new medication, her doctor sent her to a Boston-area emergency room where she was told it was likely pneumonia. Askini was sent back home where she saw her temperature spike and drop dangerously over the next several days. She also developed a cough that gurgled because of liquid in her lungs which undid a throat surgery she'd had in 2018.



According to TIME, Askini visited the ER two more times that week, and on the seventh day of her illness was given a final test, the results of which she'd only receive a few days later. After helping her manage her flu and pneumonia symptoms, doctors sent her back home to recover. Three days later, Askini received the test results and at long last had a diagnosis: COVID-19. She was one of the first cases of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States—long before President Trump signed congressional measures ensuring free diagnostic testing and the medical bill she received a few days later was as devastating as the virus itself.



Askini was hit with a whopping $34,927.43 bill for her COVID-19 testing and treatment and with no insurance like millions of other Americans, she has no idea how she'll pay it off. "I was pretty sticker-shocked. I personally don’t know anybody who has that kind of money," she said. Askini took to Twitter earlier this month to warn others of the outrageous financial blow the virus delivers, writing: If people are wondering "How much does COVID-19 Cost?!" Here is my bill. 3 ER Visits to get stabilized, oxygen, hydrated, and treat pneumonia. The COVID-19 Test was $907.00 !! I got excellent care, I am immunocompromised, but this will take a decade to pay off.



Askini and her husband had reportedly been planning to move to Washington, D.C. this month where she was about to start a new job. Now, staggering under a myriad of health concerns that followed COVID-19, she has had to put those plans on hold. Her only hope now is Medicaid, which she hopes will retroactively cover her bills.



Shocked netizens were in utter disbelief of the staggering bill and questioned the exuberant amount.







Public health experts believe tens of thousands—maybe millions—of people across the US will need to be hospitalized for COVID-19 in the foreseeable future. Although Congress passed the  Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18, it only covers testing costs going forward and does not address the cost of treatment. Those who end up going to the ICU after testing positive for COVID-19 expect big bills, regardless of what insurance they have. 



An analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the average cost of COVID-19 treatment for someone with employer insurance—and no complications—would be about $9,763. Meanwhile, those who experience complications can expect to have to pay double this amount with a bill of about $20,292. In both cases, patients with employer-based insurance can expect out-of-pocket costs of over $1,300. Although Medicare and Medicaid might cover the services needed for coronavirus treatment, the details on deductibles (for Medicare) and potential co-pays will depend on your plan and which state you're in for Medicaid.



Meanwhile, for the uninsured, the situation is much worse. Thankfully, some hospitals offer charity care programs and a few states are now making moves to help residents pay for COVID-19 costs beyond testing. States like Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington have created "special enrollment periods" to allow more people to sign up for insurance mid-year and a few others are requiring coverage of future vaccines or changing rules about prescription medication refills to help people stock up on essential medicines.


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